Haiti is Here, Haiti is Not Here

Caetano Veloso e Gilberto Gil

When you are invited up on the terrace
of the Casa de Jorge Amado Foundation
to watch from above the row of soldiers;
almost all black
beating on the necks of black good for nothings
of mulatto thieves and other almost white ones
treated like the black ones
just to show the other almost black ones
(and they are almost all black)
and the almost white poor like black ones
how it is that blacks, poor, and mulattos
and almost white ones, almost black and poor are treated
and it doesn’t matter if the eyes of the whole world
might for a moment be turned to the square
where the slaves were punished
and today a pounding of drums,
pounding of drums
with the purity of boys
in secondary school uniforms on parade day
and the epic grandeur of a people in formation
it attracts us, astonishes and stimulates us
nothing matters:
not the trace of the mansion’s architecture
not the lens from Fantástico,
not Paul Simon’s record
no one, no one is a citizen
if you go to the party there at Pelô,
and if you don’t go
think of Haiti, pray for Haiti
Haiti is here—Haiti is not here

And on TV, if you see a congressman
in badly concealed panic
when faced by any, absolutely any, any, any
plan for education that seems easy
that seems fast and easy
and will represent a threat to democratize
primary school education
and if this same congressman
should defend
the adoption of capital punishment
and the venerable cardinal should declare
that he sees so much soul in the fetus
and none in the criminal and if,
when you run a light, the old familiar light
red as usual
you notice on a street corner
a man pissing
on a shiny bag of garbage from Leblon
and when you hear the smiling silence of São Paulo
in response to the massacre
111 defenseless prisoners
but prisoners are almost all black
or almost black, or almost white
almost black and so poor
and poor men are rotten,
and everyone knows how blacks are treated
and when you go on holiday in the Caribbean
and when you go fuck without a condom,
and participate intelligently in the blockade of Cuba
Think of Haiti, pray for Haiti
Haiti is here, Haiti is not here.