Banana Country: A Litany by Schneider K. Rancy


Haitians still whisper the Dictator’s name. A phantom in the fields. Malevolent echo in the
mountains. A werewolf snatching up infants from their cribs. A name become myth.
Transmogrification is a type of magic.

And what of disappearing?


Marxist-poets once marched the streets. Romantic student-philosophers corralling the peasantry to
unite like the fingers of a fist. Drawing the Dictator’s ire.

There are no Marxist-poets now. Flesh feeding worm and loam.


Di·as·po·ra. Noun. The dispersion of a people.

Look how Aeneas flees a burning Ilium.


In Chile, the ex-pat René Depestre befriends Pablo Neruda. Over coffee they discuss poetry and
war. He imagines they are their forefathers, Alexandre Pétion and Simón Bolívar, plotting liberation.
Time is a repetitive fiction: circuitous, elliptical orbit.

In the mountains of Cuba, he fights alongside Che Guevara and writes poetry under starlight and
gunfire. At night, sitting atop the seawall in Havana and staring out into a hungry abyss, he dreams
of a free Caribbean.

On a grassy hill beside the sea, Derek Walcott is still dreaming. He will never awaken.


Then, the trembling.


Broken earth. A shuddering of mountains. Landscape of death.

Wreckage of a shattered presidential palace thrust up into dust-filtered sunlight, white & gleaming
bone. Cholera in the river, the blood. Children run barefoot through the streets. The bells of what
cathedrals remain issue their lament.


After the rupture: an absurdist farce of democracy. US diplomats intervene. A singer dancing in his
briefs becomes puppet president. A cadre of bald vampires in suits suckles blood from a hot womb
of earth.

The children across the sea do not return.


The children across the sea long to return. Their parents, haunted by memory in exile, forbid it.


Dream of an island. Under a glare of sun, air rippling like molten glass. Sweet pungent perfume of
mango and guava assaulting the senses. Everywhere hyacinths, acacias, bougainvillea. Furious
flamboyant, bursting into riot. Iguanas and lizards utter their dry croaks. All the cicadas sing.


Jacmel, Haiti. Seashore. Salt-strewn air, billowing. Mouth of sand. Walk where freedmen walked.
The ghosts of rebel slaves laughing and eating sugarcane. Their sweat waters these flowers still.
Smell of poetry in the wind.


On a beach in the countryside, hibiscus blooms.


SCHNEIDER K. RANCY is a writer born to Haitian immigrants in South Florida. He is a graduate of Columbia University, where he earned a BA in English & Comparative Literature and Biology. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Columbia New Poetry, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Ars Medica, Apogee, The Seventh Wave, Moko Magazine, The Adirondack Review, and Porridge Magazine. His unpublished novel BEYOND THE BATHS OF STARS was selected as a semi-finalist for Black Lawrence Press’s 2017 The Big Moose Prize and a finalist for the University of New Orleans’ 2017 Publishing Laboratory Contest. In his spare time, he is a surgical resident in Manhattan.