More Perihelion:

Issue 5: Phoenix

Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series

Book Reviews

Need to Know



A quick list to poets featured in this issue:

Bei Dao

Frank X. Gaspar

Carol Frith

Muriel Zeller

Dee Cohen

George Wallace

Tom Daley

James Lee Jobe

Mary Zeppa

Daniel A. Olivas

Hannah Stein

Lynne Knight

Walter Pavlich

Derick Burleson


Derick Burleson

Derick Burleson


In first let me wish you all things, the best are peace.

It is difficult to start this letter because I don't know what plus to say.

All the news are very horrible.

My friends, my brothers and my parents no longer are.

My papa a étè tuer, my brother Remy also was killed in Butare.

Maman stays in Kigali without the spirit to revive.

And me, I received bullets, but the wounds seem in good health.

Mes amis: Clément is dead.

Phillipe and Fulgence have disappeared.

Vianney is found in Cyangugu.

Let me make you believe that right now, here, nothing goes.

For the moment I am in shock and nobody is capable of giving me back my smile.

The world is showing me its evil face.

Can you imagine such a chronology of evil things on one lone person?

There are insecurities all over the country.

I am incapable of helping survive my family.

Some people search always to put an end to the lives of others.

My day-after-tomorrow is incertain and so it is hard to tell you of my future projects.

I live under the love of heaven and that from day to day.

Only this: one day we will see each other again in the world if you are still believers.

May Dieu protect us. Hope you all best things are Peace.



Houston, 1997

Oh my God what I have done?
The climate, it is very hot here.
All people, where they are?

I hear four millions living here.
But I see no persons walking.
There are many cars. All people have one.

Inside the house it is so cold.
They call that conditioning air.
Mostly all people stay inside.

Derick is grown fat and ballhead.
And me too, I am fat now.
During the war, I almost starved to die.

But now I let grow my dreadlocks.
You must to have papers here before anything.
That is same for my country.

Food here is fake. Everythings puts in cans.
Cheeseburger is not real food.
The air smells like l'essence. Barbeque is O.K.

For Fourth July they explode bombs
over the city, like back home
in Kigali on Liberation Day.

Me, I am learning slowly English.
Here all people say Howdy to mean greetings.
They smile at all the times. That is fake too.



I am coming from Rwanda.
A tiny country in the middle of Africa.
My country became very famous and popular since 1994 by genocide in my country.
Because we kill each other.
I would like to share with you my experiences in there in the genocide in my country.
Between April and June more than one million people were killed in my country.

I'd like to talk about genocide now.
What is the genocide?
The genocide in my country result in the massacre of more than one million.
I am someone of the survivor in my country.
In April 1994 I lost all my family and again my friends.
That is why I am here.

I'm trying to get my status of refugees and try to make my life in peace.
One week I stay to my home with all my family.
We don't know what we have to do.
I remember my father say:
"If we try to escape from here to go to the church, maybe we'll be safe."
And then it was kind of confusing.

We don't know what was go on at that time.
And we decide if we stay together, we going to die together.
Maybe if we are separate, one of them can be save.
And then I left my home with my sister and my brother.
And we left our parents there.

On our road, my brother and my sister, we walk about 20 days.
Because we can't take the bus, we can't ride whatever means of transportation.
We have to climb the mountain and travel all night in the forest.
And one day 21st April we was arrested by military on the checkpoint.

When you are in that kind of situation you try to make something to help you.
We erase the ethnie and we write we are Hutu.
But physically we are not Hutu.
That is the difference.

They say Tutsis have a long nose and Hutu a short nose.
That is fit for me.
And then they catch us and they ask:
"Who are you. Where are you going?"

It was difficult to answer that.
They take us in the forest and they shoot us.
My little brother died at the same time.
And my sister after.
And me, I was shoot.
The military thought I was going die like my family.

In our way I saw a lot of things.
Death bodies who was eaten by dogs.
And in my mind I say if I stay in this forest I gonna die and then I'll be eat by dogs.
Let me get out of this forest maybe someone will find me.
Maybe if I die on the road I'll be transported somewhere where they put all people.

By chance, one of my friends who work in Butare find me and lead me to the hospital.
As soon as I get to the hospital the militia came to kill people in that hospital.
Some of my friends was in hospital to work there.
And then they hide me again.

Three days after I can't support that.
I have to be get some medicine to try to moderate my wounds.
In that time I remember there was a woman from Belgium who was in the hospital.
I am her last patient.

She said:
"I'm sorry.
I can't spend all my time to you and as soon as I finish, you'll be killed on my eyes.
I can't."
And she give up.
But my friends try to help me.

At that time government say they have to let all Zairian citizens go back in their country.
And I pay some military to let me go in that convoy to Zaire.
That's why I escaped from Kigali the capital, from the university to the border.
I pay money and then I get to the border.

But as soon as I get to the border, I couldn't pass because I wasn't Zairian citizen.
And they say:
"No for you.
You have to stay in your country."

And then I spent two days in the bushes and when I feel strong.
Between my country and Zaire we have Lake Kivu as border.
And then I swim in the lake to Zaire.
I guess I was save.

But a few days after the RPF took my country in June.
And then those Hutu and military and former government have to leave the country.
And again I was with those people who want to kill me in my country.
And I can't support that.
As someone escape from Rwanda I couldn't feel well in that kind of situation.
And then I decide if I have to die again, why not die in my own county.
And then I decide to get back in my country.
But by the time since, change and change.