Pirogue

1 May 2014

A boy, I dreamed of being a captain
in the ocean’s foreign policy, catching
the fast currency, binding my pirogue
with a rope to hold back the breakers.

Listen, today a jazz singer drowned,
the infringing Atlantic shipped pirates
who winch poaching flags as Senegal’s
men scrape in the grimy sweatshop.

If only stories were like driftnets hurled
farther than Rosetta time, but comets too
are spun, desiccating colonies. And oceans
a chagrin, a tattered trellis of sardinia.

Our fish are émigrés, there’s no mercy for
the spawning flurry: our blood flows West
dragged in undertows from Saloum to Seine,
where Europe serves sovereign ministries.

Banks, NGO charities flog our sick children.
We’d starve if not for bushfood: tortoise or
dolphin meat, our villages flood, leave us
licking silt-stained boabs, rum-soaked palms.

But I am one of Senghor’s thin-legged,
migrant sons, too proud to beg for breadfruit;
hungry for Spain. Listen, today we threw
a decomposing body overboard ─ and prayed.

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