“Two Poems” by Chris Cartright

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

La joie de vivre in Haiti

MINUSTAH was the acronym for the UN peacekeeping mission to Haiti after

the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

I saw a wet corpse in the street,

pale handkerchief on face.

Dad swung him into view,

rubbery steering wheel.

MINUSTAH troops stood over him.

We were going to buy shirts.

His blood shown on the black

like glass.

I saw a smoking corpse once too.

We were going to the beach.

Dad swung him out of frame

and said, “Don’t look.”

Dad made a fist.

“His penis was like this.”

Dad said don’t look, but we had smelled it long before.

I didn’t see its cock, but it was smoking like an asteroid.

Please. Don’t write about your parents or the places you come from.

Don’t write about anything except the burning smell of blood.


The total number of people killed in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti is

unknowable. 300,000 were injured. 1.5 million people were displaced.

A pane of glass seats eight

a sheet of rain and grey clouds trapped

the table didn’t smash

it cracked

we kept it while we could

I touched the dust and felt the chip

where I had chipped my tooth

a child

company came, somebody died

we kept it while we could

but when it broke again

I wasn’t home

look at it in the yard

split open in the dirt

these two black halves of cloud

this rain that will not break

Chris Cartright grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and lives in Savannah, Georgia. He earned his MFA in 2012 and teaches writing, literature, and gender studies courses at Georgia Southern University.