Monday, January 14, 2013

Upon the Seas of Anarchy, Canto III

Canto II

Canto III

There is a certain circular justice
In building the first charter city on
The continent of Africa. A kiss
Of freedom for the world, a kiss of hope
For all the world that looks in the abyss.

I want to talk about the time I went
To Freedom City, met with Song – the “Pope”
Of liberty, we snidely joked – was sent
As a reporter to expose the truth
Of what was happening, so Hel-bent

To show it was corrupt and exploitative,
To show how it was run by the uncouth
And show that it impoverished the native
And immigrant alike. I went to see
My fantasy and what no contemplative

Person, one who truly understood what
Mankind is like in his complexity
And not as I would improve him – a slut
And saint at once – a fractal golden mean –
Who, praised or curse, can always give a “but . . .”

No, I was sure that I would find corruption –
And that, indeed, is what I found: a scene
Of desolate corruption, interruption
Of wealth and progress Song had made upon
Sanaga’s mouth by Kalabi’s disruption.

But I’m ahead of myself yet again.
I went to Freedom City, met with Song,
And entered his great city with distain.
I could not see the wealth and freedom there –
No matter what, I would see only pain.

But even I could not deny the sight
I witnessed there. A city growing where
A river delta swamped the land, delight
Of senses, energy, and work displayed
Itself in every nook, both day and night.

I saw musicians playing by the streets,
Each one well-dressed, each sounding like they played
The Met each night; the poets rapped their beats
In coffee houses; on each wall there hung
The city’s artists’ works in well-sketched sheets

And brightly painted canvasses. The smell
Of food filled up the city, and my tongue
Had never tasted food and drink so well-
Prepared, no matter where I went, so fresh
And clean. And yet, so certain this was Hell,

I could not see or taste or smell what all
Emerged before me naturally. I’d thresh
The city that I saw to give it, wall
And street alike, back to the people who
I knew this Song had stole it from, install

A government who always would provide
Each citizen the smallest thing and do
All things for everyone. I would divide
The classes, rob the rich to give the poor
What I thought they deserved and chide

Them if they dared complain. Unhappy, smug,
I thought that my unhappiness was more
From all the suffering I saw – the drug
I fed myself – but generosity
Is never true from those who, like a thug,

Would take from others. No, true happiness
Can only come when you give honestly
From what you own – that’s how you get the bless
Of happiness. You give what others earned
And you will simply live a life of stress.

It took me many years to learn this truth,
A truth, despite the evidence, I spurned
In articles and in the voting booth,
Until I looked upon the devastation
Of Freedom City that was so uncouth

As to dare challenge my ideals. But when
I went to see the city, revelation
Was still a long way off. I saw a den
Of thieves at work, and searched until I found
Corruption there, as though a place where men

Existed would not have its stench. But Song
Would have to learn a city needed ground
Of solid stone, that bribes were sand, were wrong
Not just as abstract morals, but because
The bonds they built were simply not that strong.

Perhaps I helped to bring the city’s fall –
Perhaps that’s what a good reporter does,
Exposing wrong – perhaps I pushed the ball –
Perhaps it would have happened anyway –
But when my article collapsed the wall

Of secrecy in Cameroon, a cry
Went out against the city on that day.
The government reacted – they’d deny
Corruption, but General Kalabi
Was sent in right away, and therefore by

The end of that same week, the General
Was occupying Freedom City. He
Had somehow failed to capture Song, but full
Of victory at taking unarmed men,
He declared victory and killed a bull

Right there within the city square, a kind
Of sacrifice, to cleanse the city. Then
He said all Cameroonians would find
The city theirs, but all the rest must leave
Within the week, or he would make them blind.

I think it now barbarity, but then
I thought it right. Back then, I would believe
The lies of all dictators, big strongmen
I now see raped and pillaged those they ruled,
And did it with the mere stroke of a pen.
Canto IV

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Once More!

I could not ever say I hate my life
For if I were to say I hate today
I’d thus reject my children and my wife –
And I could never have a day so gray.

I must affirm the pain, the things I hate
To do, my money worries, tiny stresses
That always needle, grind, annoy and grate –
For smiles and Matchbox cars, chanklas and dresses.

I won’t resent the things I have to do,
Because I would resent the people I
Most love. I will not live so that I rue
My days – my loves I will not, can’t deny.

My “yes!” to life is also yes to pain –
And every sorrow is to my life, gain.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Below Minimum

His stomach rumbled, but he had to go
To his next stop – it was a little shop
That sold mere flowers, nick-knacks. In the flow
From shop to shop, he wished that he could drop

The wages he could offer – he was sure
He could have had a job by now, the knife
Of hunger would be gone. He would endure
A little less to feed his kids and wife.

He knew he was not worth the pay each place
Could offer him – he had dropped out of school,
He had no skills, and no one would embrace
Him so that he could learn some. Thus, the cruel

Law followed him and kept him unemployed
And ignorant and unemployable –
A cruelty that did more than just annoyed,
Conspiring to keep his skills and talents dull.

He never would be able to compete
With anyone within the working class –
A cruelty by design, so they’d defeat
Him long before he’d see within the glass

A man who could take care of his own kids
And wife with honest labor, so he turned
Within the week to crime – and soon he rids
A person of their life because we spurned

Him with a set of legislation which
Destroyed his dignity. He went to jail –
We threw him, broken, down into a ditch
Because of our unholy, sacred grail.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Upon the Sea of Anarchy: Canto II

Canto I

Canto II

And now I have to sing the song of Song,
Of Michael Song whose vision was to show
The world the way the poor could become strong
By building for a poor country a brand
New city that would show where we went wrong

In economic governance. And yet,
That city fell, because it was a grand
Success. And now we all have made a bet
On open seas, Jeff Freeman’s city on
The sea, so large that we could land your jet.

You do not know of Jeff Freeman? The son
Of David, son of Milton, each son gone
More radical? But what great Milton’s done –
An economics Nobel Prize – cast quite
A shadow. Jeff, though, he is a new sun.

The grandfather, he tried to work within
The governments he had. He lost that fight
With his success with a dictator. Sin
Soon shadowed economic freedom. Father
Learned, turned to anarchy. But Jeff would win

The hearts of women, men like me who saw
The failures freedom’s faced – you’d ask, “Why bother?”
It’s failed so often – yet so love the law
Of nature to evolve more liberty
That this great city was a natural draw.

And that is what drew many to the plan
Of Michael Song, which seemed for them to be
A sensible approach, since it began
With countries which were poor, make a Hong Kong
That’s open, growing, free, and African.

While Nicaragua was his Lilith, Mike
Was given Eve with Cameroon. A long,
Long legal process in each case – a strike
At first with Nicaragua’s supreme court,
Success in Cameroon with a small hike

Up to the court behind the scenes. That’s how
It worked in Cameroon back then. Abort
Another city? Or do you just bow
To their political reality?
Mike wanted bacon, so he fed the sow.

When I first learned of this, I must admit
That I was thrilled that a proclivity
For dark corruption – yes, it seemed to fit! –
Was underlying this market attempt.
And with my piece the darkness would be lit!

If Michael Song was blind, then moreso I.
If you must bribe, then you can’t trust. Contempt
Is sown among those you must bribe. The lie
Cannot support the truth. And so, although
The city did succeed – one can’t deny

It did succeed – it was not long before
It fell. The government saw Freedom grow
(For Freedom City was its name) to four
Times Cameroon’s own GDP, and sent
An army in because they wanted more.

The city that I saw was prosperous
And cosmopolitan – but when I went
To see the aftermath, I saw a puss
Filled sore upon the face of Africa,
Such poverty I could not find a bus

To take me from the airport. A tuk-tuk
Was all that I could find. Per capita
Had certainly collapsed. The so-called luck
I claimed the city had was gone – and gone,
Too, was my blindness with which I’d been struck.
Canto III

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


With my degree in beauty, can’t you see
That when I say you’re beautiful, it’s true –
I’ve analyzed all beauty thoroughly,
But what I’d reproduce the most is you.

I’ve looked upon the Greek Acropolis –
I’ve looked upon Yosemite’s grand space –
But it is you who brought my soul the bliss
That makes me want to stay in but one place.

And when the joy of beauty fills me up
From seeing you with but the slightest glance,
I want to pour the dark wine from my cup
And lift my voice in song, my legs in dance.

You are my butterfly, my beautiful
Uplifting art – I feel your loving pull.