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Christmas Eve, Kampala, Uganda

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.

from RefugeFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Adrie Kusserow Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.