Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Poem From Kenya

A Poem From Kenya:

katrina is sweeping away a terrible summer of hurricanes and death
labour day monday is taking a sneak preview at the soon to be dead season
someone's grandma is rotting away in an anonymous watery grave
a crying child is yet to find out that daddy is not coming back
thousands have lost even the little that they did not have

seven months after the asian tsunami, the american hurricane
has written another harsh documentary indicting those
who have been urinating and defecating on their global mother
the sea of brown and black faces left behind offer a harsh reminder
of the enduring chainless slavery that has anchored the poor in squalid neighbourhoods

there are those who see in the deaths and flooding
the looting and the desolation
there are those who see in the rampage and the carnage
there are those who see in these terrible misdeeds
a fulfillment of a much whispered about
doomsday prophecy
so the manabii of siku ya kiama
so the prophets of the end times
and the profiteers of misery
chortle with crackling palms
seeing a macabre vindication
in the tales of devastation
after decades of isolation
dismissed as quacks and kooks
the prophets step forward warning their fearful new recruits
to give in to their superstitions and suppositions
after all, they are told they can survive doomsday
until the day after heaven is reestablished

my people, my people listen to my mumble:
the end is not nigh
the beginning is still around the corner
only a fool will commit suicide because it rained until midnight last night
only a fool is unaware that
even the severest thunderstorm cannot last a season

lives have been washed away
limbs broken, skulls cracked, ribs smashed
faces configured,life savings buried
homes crumbled, families torn asunder

somehow out of those ruins
millions of southern survivors are
tottering uncertainly towards the fall
wondering what they were doing exactly when
katrina knocked them off their feet

fathers are wailing for their daughters
mothers are sobbing for their sons
ex-lovers are realizing they still loved their former partners
siblings are marveling at their foolish rivalry
co-workers are sheepish about the petty office politics
in the face of the bigger calamity
enbracing them all in a vice tight grip

new orleans, baton rouge, mobile
louisiana, alabama and all those delta and bayou regions
have a choice forced on them by harsh nature
can they go back to the tattered last weeks of the hurricane
or stroll into next week reflecting over the future

katrina has stripped america bare
taken off the facade of universal affluence
washed off the mascara of braggadocio
to reveal the thousands of african faces
left stranded by the galloping amerepublican dream
there is an africa in america
there is a latin america in gringo's america
there is an asia in the usa
there is a third world in the first world
if you want to find southern villages
go to the northern cities
like my friend kris of colombo said ages ago
the only minority is the bourgeoisie

what shall we as humankind do with all this hurting
what shall we as humankind do with all this negativity
should we all join millenarian cults and move into survivalist tents
should we look for our twenty first century ark halves

throughout human existence humankind
has embraced the life/death/life cycle
decay is a preview of regeneration
out of the rotting fruit
new seedlings often germinate
the hurricanes may have whipped slapped the
wretched of the earth in the southern usa
but remember that biblical saying
about the ultimate inheritors of the earth....

hope and optimism is what has kept humankind going
and so let us look beyond the stormy night
to a calm morning soon....