“Hymn to Haiti” by Schneider Rancy

Image by Roaring Jellyfish Designs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


Hymn to Haiti


Sing o muse

— of what? This

is no hymn

but the screaming

of a people flung

to all corners of heaven

by dictatorship

and imperialism

and a shattering earth

 a host of millions

out of chains   another Exodus

 across the waters


 those mountainous shores

to where?


Son of Haiti
child of an African god
broken over stone
splintered pieces
loosed to wind

— where are you?
in what land do you
find yourself?
to what land
do you crawl?


There is no more
is a dream memory
shored up of
fragments (

dead poets
———and forgotten novels
old music
———tasting of kompa
and smelling of meringue
———and jazz ,
mountains scattered
———with hyacinth
& fortresses ,
no one remembers
———because France
and America
———have buried their
names —

after all
is how they silence
the past
& shape

) You search
for a dream
Dreamer :
where is the fantasy



Real is
your breath
Your tongue’s weight
the music of Kréyol
Your grandmother’s
Vodou stories
told over rum
ancient as Africa
in Haiti as in Puerto Rico
or Cuba
or Brasil
or Greece
for Ulysses also
slaughtered the ram
to counsel the dead

Tell me : what is more real
than ancestry?


fly free
possess the flesh
drum music quickens
the heart
This is a song
that never dies
Home is a song
that never dies
Let it rise now inside you
let it crowd
your blood
lift your breast
burn your throat
like rum
and shake the stars —

are steel
tempered in fire
& wherever
we endure

is Home


Schneider K. Rancy is a Haitian-American graduate of Columbia University, where he studied English and Comparative Literature and Biology. His poetry has been published in Columbia New PoetryIntima: A Journal of Narrative MedicineArs Medica, and Apogee. His novel BEYOND THE BATHS OF STARS was selected as a semi-finalist for Black Lawrence Press’s 2017 The Big Moose Prize and a finalist for the University of New Orleans’ 2017 Publishing Laboratory Contest. He is a medical student in New York City.