Fault Lines — Eleven Months On



The Earth has traveled almost round the Sun

Since the day it shook and sucked them down.



and Down

Everything fell:

Shacks and churches smashed through sewers;

Palace collapsed—an empty shell.

Three hundred thousand (counted, fewer;

Thousands buried never found).

A nation ruptured; catacombs

Unleash the walled up winds of hell.

La Terre Tremble. 


Who could forget what that shaking ground

Revealed for all to see, who cared to look?

The way the streets filled up with bloated bodies;

The way the troops drove on,   and let them cook?

The ‘Aid’ delayed, as if for fear of zombies

rising from their rubble graves to run–

White eyes blazing bloody memories

of how white masters came and took by gun.

And yet, and yet, poor Haitians did not riot;

            worked to pull each other from the ruins.

Carried those who died, and those who wouldn’t

for a while,

And those who lived.

Gave until they had no more

to give.

(Meanwhile,“Security,” guns in hand; Guarded the gates that no longer could stand

Protecting the property of those that command. ) 


A sudden eruption

of broken heart blisters

oozing, drying Live on TV

far flung news anchors aim for the ripe wound,

peeling it back, letting us see

seeking the perfect angle to capture

“the inexplicable-horror-of-it-all,”

(with just a dash of sugary hope thrown in for the folks at home)

finding that juicy spot where the latex glove meets the bandage

meets the hand

meets the ballot box

meets the sky

Where it hurts to look.  Where it makes you cry.

            (But never lets you find out Why?)

From this fastened hook

America hangs

Prepared to unleash its charity thang

Solemn Celebrities claim center stage:

And all that sit are moved.

Millions shut their eyes in prayer

(secretly thankful that they’re not there)

Yet ready to do what good people should do:

                                    today, tomorrow, even next week.

But do they ever let the Haitians speak?

What do the people there have to say?

When they look at us what do they see?   

Who will dare to take a peek today?


Caught in the sun, the pocked eye turns away.

How much can the blinded stand to see? :

Band-aids slap where barricades should be.




                                       They say there are a dozen cities

                                       With around a million people each

                                      Lying, waiting, sleeping on a fault line;

                                       Slum-dweller flesh to feed the breach.

                                           For each year, the Earth, it shivers

                                                In the endless cold of space;

                                           Quakes and quivers, like an ox

                                                         whose skin

                                            must knock flies from its face.

                                               The fault is not the moving Earth’s

                             –We know that quakes will come, and even where–

The problem:

a world-wide class affliction

Razes mounds

of contradiction;        

Bubbling boils that break the skin,

Seeping hot pus, sweat and blood —    and liquid gold

That tumbles up to ruler’s lips ice cold.

Parasites suck membranes thin:

Digging nails cleave craters for trails,

So healthy flesh is cut

to scabs and scars,

to fit the scales;

                            Plow the farmers off the land

                            Build estates on bone and sand

                           Spill the poor in pavement cracks

                           Stitch the workers into seams

                           for rulers’ flowing cloaks

                           —Breaking their backs—

                          letting them choke

                           gasping for air–

                           stripping them down to their dreams,

                           then bare.

The earth, we know, will quiver;

the brittle surface, tear.


Such a plague has no plan

for poor people

except for the juice

to be squeezed

from their veins

to quench its viral thirst.

Markets will pressure

 and hearts burst.

                                  So long as endless profit reigns.

(The heads of state remain aloof:

Crisis = opportunity, after all

Helicopter blades

give the world a roof.

And there’s plenty of sweat to catch,

as they fall.) 




Outside Port au Prince:

Refugee Cities–

Rain soaked sheets

Flap on and on,

But only the bugs can fly.

The people gather, asking


Eyes peer out through fraying holes;

Fingers point

At jet-liners tearing the sky.

       Aboard corporate jets:

Thirsting agents

Ties loosened,

Clinking drinks in hand,

Toast to the future they’ve left behind,

Traveling home,

to milder climes:

If they look down

                 through parting clouds–

see only some

dirty laundry lines.


About Joe Ramsey

I'm the keeper of this site, as well as the author who produces (most of) the work that will appear on it.
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