I am writing to let you know that we are happy to have chosen your excellent poem "A Sharecropper's Pantoum" for inclusion in our October issue of the Mississippi Review Online. Excellent work on a tough poem to pull off.
If you would please let me know as soon as possible if you would like us to use the bio you originally sent, or send me a different, brief bio to be posted on the site, we would very much appreciate it.
Thanks for the excellent work!
A Sharecropper’s Pantoum
for a dry season
The drug cocktails that have slashed the mortality rate of
HIV-positive people in the U.S. and Western Europe, are
all but non-existent in Haiti. [O]nly 3 percent to 4 percent
of people with AIDS [there] have access to the newest drugs.
—Alfredo S. Lanier, The Chicago Tribune
Hauling this pine box on a black Chevrolet,
I pray to a candle at the end of its wick.
White burial clothes in a garbage bag,
I ride for a place to die.
I pray to a candle at the end of its wick
on the mud road home from Port-au-Prince
and ride toward a place to die
where mangoes hang and sugarcane turns.
By the dust road home from Port-au-Prince,
I am a black skeleton—6 feet tall, yet 90 pounds—
where mangoes hang and sugarcane burns.
I turned the earth before I got this thing.
A lesioned skeleton—a rainbow tall, now 70 pounds—
I dream across the waters and of the miracles there
and turn to earth in the jaws of this thing:
eyes—black holes, lungs—green clouds.
Dreaming across the waters and of the miracles there,
white burial clothes in a garbage bag,
eyes—black holes, lungs—green clouds,
I haul this pine box in a black Chevrolet.