Compost city, neon slumyard, Britney Spears
rising above the sticky bar,
buses from Juba coughing and belching,
inching slow as whales in the darkness
while the red-butted monkeys in the bush
leap from branch to branch.
Here, under fluorescent lights,
rat-dogs sniff the streets like addicts,
Dinka soldiers mumble,
drag their HIV around in a haze,
while skimpy girls gawk at televisions
till the manager waves them away like flies.
Still the moon, creamy and subdued,
spreads its patient lunar gauze over all of them,
not just the muzungus working off their Western guilt,
the noble golden cheetahs,
or the Doctors Without Borders,
but the limp jaw of the glue sniffer too,
the sprawled belly of the wife beater,
and the drunken man
sitting in a corner
working his cock into a frenzy
as his groans stretch wide with defeat
into some warm swatch
of the moon’s sweet milk.
Oh holy tenderness of this mute misty planet,
bless these fragile, harried nests
the tired and hungry build.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.