Haiti Earthquake: Pour La Enième Fois/For the Umpteenth Time

January 11, 2013

For the first installment of our two-part collaboration with the PEN American Center, Haitian poet Georges Castera reflects on the devastation a 7.0-magnitude earthquake wreaked on his country in 2010.

A young man pauses as night falls on Corail-Cesselesse, March 17, 2010. Photo by Scout Tufankjian.

A Creative Time Reports and PEN American Center collaboration

To jump to the English translation, click here.

A Port-au-Prince

Je déplace encore les mots

à ma guise

mais les maisons sont trop lourdes

à porter

aucun miroir phraseur

pour nous informer

seul les trottoirs

nous disent ironiquement :

maisons sans amants

maisons sans enfants

maisons larmoyantes





A chaque famille

Sa ration de morts

Partout s’imposent  les murs

Plus intimement

Dans notre vie

Sans bonjour

Sans sommation

Three months after the earthquake, with the main downtown still destroyed, a woman walks through her neighborhood. Photo by Scout Tufankjian.

In Port-au-Prince

I’m still shifting words about

as I please

but the houses are too heavy

to carry

no chattering mirror

to inform us

only the sidewalks

tell us ironically:

houses without lovers

houses without children

houses in tears





To each family

Its share of dead

Everywhere the walls force themselves

More intimately

Into our life

Without good morning

Without summons


Translated by Christine Schwartz Hartley