Sunday, March 18, 2007

Poem About Africa

Poem About Africa


Are central to my concept of planet Africa,
A world found nowhere on my subway map.
Africa has elephants
And the elephants of Africa
Are elephants of color,
Not white.
Regarding Africa,
My concept is deficient
But sufficient.
Nowhere on my schedule is a roadblock
Where I must prove my knowledge or be denounced.
I can skate by on stereotypes,
Complacently ignorant,
With nobody shooting in my direction.
In my experience,
Never yet damaged the succulence of the peach.
Was never yet improved
By either fact replete or theory perfect.
My stereotypes are ignoble
But do me no damage
Down at the cholesterol level.
Ignorance is not fattening,
And does not cause insomnia.
Kidney stones
Are never the consequence
Of pure dumb indifference to the facts.
To stage a festival of the stereotypes,
My concept of Africa is that Africa
And elephants,
And interesting entertainments like Ebola.
It has machetes,
Diamond wars,
And a mountain called Kilimanjaro
Which is definitely worth a visit,
Though seeing Annapurna
Was quite enough for me.
Lots of things in Africa
Are in short supply.
Food, water, money, socks,
Ice hockey,
Irish jokes,
And beluga caviar.
This list is not exhaustive.
Guns and ammunition,By contrast,
Are a drug on the market.
Familiar aspects of Africa,
Things I would recognize,
Would include rice,
Airline tickets
And ballpoint pens.
I believe that Africa
Is not devoid of ice cream,
But this is supposition,
Just a guess.
When it comes to expert knowledge,
I'm a zero.
By way of pardon,
I plead my case:
My data damage
Is symptomatic of a brain disease
Called culture.
I have, then, a medical excuse.
And, on the level of reciprocality,
While I know, at least,
That Africa exists,
Africa knows substantially less than zero
About me.

Footnote: my spellchecker, which has never been to Africa, prefers "Iola" to "Ebola." But I, having at least read THE HOT ZONE, overrule it.

This poem is part of an ongoing project, the GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION, already online in partial form at, and tentatively scheduled for publication as a paperback book round about November 2007 (or earlier, if I can get A into gear).


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