Like Everyone Else

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4.8 Like Everyone Else

“Today is a different look for you.”
I anticipate the compliment.
It’s the most flamboyant blue I own.
The bravest thing I can wear
In this world of black slacks and neutral forms
Is a skirt the color of lapis
Printed with symmetrical golden crescents.
When I bought the bolt I was warned it would be risky.
It’s a difficult print to work with.
The little tailor mimicked the a-line photo,
Then added big pockets on the sides.
It’s out of my comfort zone.
“Normally I can pick you out, but today
you look like everyone else.”
I mentally stutter before responding.
I look like everyone else…
I’m dressed like a color block in a children’s picture book!
Then I remember where I am.
It takes Africa to make cerulean mundane.
My American muted purples are luxurious here,
Signifying me.
Here, women wear rainbows.
To stand out is to blend in.
“But it’s nice that you’re trying something new.”
…Thanks.

4.9 Keeps Dancing

I hope that little boy keeps dancing.
I hope the music does not leave his arms,
Even after they’ve grown long and wiry with hard work.
I hope that no one scolds him for dancing,
Tells him that men don’t spin.
I hope that little boy looks up again and again
And starts to beat his feet against the ground,
Throw his head down and his chest up in jubilation
Just for a moment now and then
Just enough to find pleasure.
I hope that little boy grows to be a man
Who dances in the streets every now and then.

Hassan’s Power

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4.7 Hassan’s Power

Atop the granite stone I sit down hard.
The climb up has been long.
Hassan, our guide, smiles and squats down gently near me
“Are you tired?” He asks from his ledge.
I nod with as much honesty as I can muster.
He cups his hands and claps them in front of his face
Pushing the air out through his four strong teeth.
I stare at him, dumbfounded.
He looks at me, confused.
Don’t I understand?
“It’s to give you power!”
He goes back to clapping his hands at me,
his air echoing through the canyon around us.
And I desperately search for whatever power
I’m meant to absorb.
Finally, out of guilt towards a grandfather figure-
“It worked!” I announce, standing.
I cannot disappoint Hassan.
Indulgence is a kind of power.

Sunny Conakry

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4.5 Sunny Conakry

I’m ready for the coming dark
When the power goes away
For here in sunny Conakry
It’s out most of the day

I’ll sit out in my wooden chair
And listen to the sea
I’ll watch the garbage ride the tide
In sunny Conakry

Oh happy day
Oh finery
It’s all ok
In Conakry

I’m ready for the Mad Max dawn
When the highways have gone bad
For here in sunny Conakry
Driving’s always mad

I’ll ride my little car along
As careful as can be
I’ll choke down smoke till I get home
In sunny Conakry

Oh sunny day
(Humidity)
It’s just that way
In Conakry.

Scavenger at a Sprinkler

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4.3 Scavenger at a sprinkler

Clanky-winged creature stretching out in the sun
Wash your feathers of the bits of blood and mess
Dry season in the red dirt has left you undone
The rain-making device is a godlike gift
Stuck hopping through water, old straggle-feather breasts
While the white-winged egrets stalk and drift
Snatching bugs from the dry husks of grass
You use your red hook beak and strip your chest
Of bone, of vein, of rotted carcass.