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Tonton Macoute


by Gita M. Smith


Baby Doc Duvalier, round-faced and syphilitic,

rode into Port-Au-Prince in a Cadillac Escalade

with two inches of expensive shirt cuff showing.

 

He waved to the throngs, his soft hands making semicircles,

his hair pomaded, looking like money.

From inside the armored car, one starving sugar cane worker

looked just like the next. 

My little people, he said, my little ones. They still love me.

My country needs me, he told reporters who had gathered

in the rain at the Palace of Justice

where he stood in shined shoes and bespoke suit.

 

In the streets, people shouted his name and burned fires.

A distant drumbeat rolled towards the capitol. Was that thunder,

a gathering army, or the dead rising from their shallow graves

to demand their pound of flesh, at last,

from the robber son of robber barons?

Once upon a time, the people cowered at the mention of the TonTon Macoute.

But after floods, earthquakes and hurricanes,

 what could the Haitians possibly have left to fear? 

Baby Doc, who once ate blood oranges while standing on

the corpses of his enemies, smirked for the cameras.

The world shuddered.

 

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