A Poem for Haiti

I typically do not write rhyming poetry, but yesterday’s NaPoWriMo challenge was to write a one-stanza poem in the ottava rima form. The form has eight lines, with a rhyming pattern of abababcc, in iambic pentameter.

This poem is about the hopelessness of restavek, a system of child slavery that affects approximately 300,000 Haitian children.

Pov Timoun (Poor Child)

by Jan Brown

When I first came to live with them I wept

each night. Nightmares…time moved too slow.

I tried to sleep! Into my room he crept.

I couldn’t count the lashes or the blows.

I couldn’t count the promises not kept.

I lugged his books to school, but could not go.

They see me as a tool for joy or pain–

but never pov timoun, never again.


If you would like to find out more about restavek, and the efforts being made to abolish the system, I encourage you to watch Jean Robert Cadet’s short speech at the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum, below, or visit the Restavek Freedom Foundation web site.  You can also access my previous blog posts on the subject here.


3 thoughts on “A Poem for Haiti

  1. A powerful poem – I enjoyed reading it and learning of something I didn’t previously know about.
    How are you finding NaPoWriMo? I was concerned that writing a daily poem and publishing it would perhaps make me write less valuable things. I write daily and, at the moment, I am working on a lot of poetry but not a poem a day. I like to spend days over a poem. Yet the poems I am seeing here are good – do you write one daily anyway?

    • Thank you, Carolyn! I’ve really enjoyed some of the NaPoWriMo.net challenges. My goal in April is to average a poem a day–counting both blog posts and tweets. I normally write less than that, and many are haiku or other short forms that fit in a tweet. In the past, my longer poems have been free verse, so the interesting poetry forms that are the subject of the NaPoWriMo.net prompts are adding some variety to my writing life 🙂

      • Yes, I tend to write free verse and, looking at your blog I think it would have been a good idea for me to attempt the challenge – it would have made me experiment with forms I normally shy away from.

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