Patrick Sylvain
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Patrick Sylvain is a Haitian-American writer, educator, lecturer and photographer who lives and teaches in Massachusetts. He received his Ed.M. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and has been Published in Several Anthologies, Magazines and Reviews Including: African American Review, Agni, American Poetry Anthology, American Poetry Review, The Best of Beacon, 1999, Butterfly’s Way, Callaloo, Caribbean Writers, Confrontation, Crab Orchard Review, Haitian Times, Kestrel, Massachusetts Review, Open Gate, Ploughshares, Revue Noire and Step Into the World He is also a former member of the Darkroom Writers Collective, as well as a former board member of PEN New England. His latest book, Love, Lust & Loss/ Lanmou, anvi ak pèdans, was published by Mémoire d'Encrier in October 2005.

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Habits of Light

I'm writing my life's page.
There is neither paper nor pen
To imprint thoughts
Just black ink
Dripping from memories.
Silhouettes etched across my writing desk
My life is in revision
And each breath taken is worth
Puzzling over.
My mind tries not to break
A single line
But habits of light
Shadow ugliness.
Now, there are grids
Guiding my story line.

             November 26, 2004

Abitid limyè

M'ap ekri paj lavi m'
Pa gen ni papye ni plim
Pou m’ enprime ide m'.
Nan memwa m', sèlman lank
Nwa k'ap koule.
Silwèt grave sou ekritwa m’
Lavi m’ an revizyon,
Chak souf
Merite yon koudèy.
Sèvo eseye pou l' pa kase
Yon grenn liy
Men abitid limyè
Se jete lombraj sou ledè.
Kounyen an, genyen griyaj
K'ap gide cheminman istwa m’.

                 Tr. 26 Novanm, 2004
From the book: Love, Lust & Loss / Lanmou, anvi ak pèdans)

Dream Fragment I

In my watery
dreams,
waves of words
wage war.
I become a solitary
fish
unable to find
my school.
And in the depth
of shadows,
the sea
with its many fragments
of history
violently narrates
my future
with salted waves
of words.
I shed scales
and meet death
on a gravel beach.

From the Manuscript: “Spirit Chaser”)

Jazzing Bird
for Abbey

It's been a year since you've touched
my hands, I remember seeing
a serene yet generous smile
seeping out of your mouth like notes do,
when I said: I'm from Haiti. Abbey,
what you've created is more than music.
It's a stream, a brook circling around
my heart as your half-sung, half-spoken
bitter sweet rhythm enters my head.

I curl, and lean gently,
so my ears can pick up
your voice which sings
about a beggar's life.
And the tone, half-mellow,
glides with emotion like a bird
dipping its wings as if jazzing
with tender wind in the sky.

Abbey, what you bring, is a bird
alone with no mate, but the music
marinated in your life, is a soulful dish
that no culinary artist can imitate.
The piano tickles the heart that Max
has broken, and you begin to sing
of how "everything is measured at a cost,"
Moving sturdily as if venturing
through waves of notes.

As I listen to you, I realize
how beautiful each breath
between chords falls.
The jazz you sing is stronger
than Haitian rum and Russian vodka
combined. It is an eruption of your soul,
pulsing into measured notes.

(From the Manuscript: "Spirit Chaser")
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