Malawi Series

We come from Africa
Jacaranda trees and blue
Sky, petrol shortage and
Bad economy, this sleepy
City, one lane roads,
Spotty electricity and

Red dust covers everything;
Old white buildings and
Front stoops caked in dusty
Orange under a yellow
Sun and big sky, fires
Burning, roast chicken and
Kids playing, quietly braiding
Hair at the front door.
Puddles swell as clouds break
Heat, turning dust to mud
And streets to rivers.

Drinking Fanta in
Mtandire and driving
through Mchesi at
dusk, I was happy.

Forgot the world, the
darkness, and watched
the sun set over
Malawi, purple bloom
jacaranda trees, and
the fullness of  life.

Eating sour mango in the sun
we talk about money, children
the things of life.

A mama tells me that in
Malawi children come first
as long as there is food
on the table.

They play, dusty beside us,
sour mango juice on
my fingers and swatting
flies from my side.

People chew sugarcane
in the afternoon sun,
cook over open fire,
pump water from deep
wells and balance great
sacks of rice, beans and
maize meal atop their
heads. They carry feathered
hens home for dinner, peel
potatoes along the roadside
and ride slowly on bicycles
rushing nowhere.

They cry mzungu
as I pass. Young ones
come running in dusty party dresses
and old shoes. We are all
the same, mzungu,
walking these streets
how can there be a

We are all the same,
mzungu, you and me, but
I will never sleep
in Mtandire or Chinsapo.
I will go home and you
will not visit me there.


Kisenyi is busy with life
Clouds part to take a breath
And for a moment, we see sun.

How do I write about
Naked babies standing in
Shit and mud, and at the
Same time, their smiles
Bright with teeth?

How do I tell the truth
About these places -
That they are beautiful
But also, that people need
Homes, that they shit in the open
and sleep on cardboard.

It is a strange thing
To be moved to tears
By beauty, or humanity,
Amidst such chaos.

What do I do with those tears?
What am I to make of them?

Perhaps they have been waiting
Witnessing evictions, death
And homelessness. Perhaps
They come because facing such
Injustice, facing death
There is song, dance, hope.