A Chihuahua in Ouagadougou


Sometimes I get out
A writer does not usually
The pot
is brewing
full of images and words
things unsaid and things too said
A hot
steaming pot
of life
bending, bending, wanting, and waiting to pour eagerly
onto my head
Let it burn
My yearning
for words. The right words
to describe the wrong feelings,
the wrong people,
the wrong things
To define them
To deny them
To release myself
I’m washed over with words
I hear them screaming, yelling, begging me.
Raven, don’t you see me?
I write it. I write it. I write and write and every word fights with better words.
Some words
get stuck
in unwanted places
They become
the crook in my neck.
The headache under my brow.
The weariness behind my eyes.
That coffee is not working. I’m wanting
a perfection of being. To describe those things. Those things.
What is that you’re seeing? What is that you’re feeling?
Don’t deny it until you know it.
the temptation to dull yourself,
numb yourself,
abuse yourself.
What are you seeing? What are you feeling? What are you tasting?
What are you kissing? What are you loving?
It’s a reflection
of you
Organize it
Taste it
Touch it
Feel it
Study it
Sometimes I finish things
I write
a book
I go
I go
I sell it
An Israeli idles near me
He picks it up
He recognizes me
in my words
He smiles
He shares
He writes too
Astor Place is full of things
and students
and truants
and artists
like me,
to be sold
on an ecstasy of hope
Changing to be better
An Egyptian picks me up
My things
My story
he likes
He smiles
He reads
He offers me his things
I push back with mine
I write.
I write.
I write. I say
Read my words
my words
Read my thoughts
Eat them
Know them
Grow them
into another world
He smiles
He reads
He leaves
and stops
and turns
invites me
Waga awaits you
St Marks Place can give you
a tea or two
There, I stare
I don’t leave
just yet
The Israeli still there watching me
Wondering me
About me
He stares
He reads
He buys
He laughs
That tea is calling him
We exchange a number or two or three or ten. I say when?
He leaves
$20 in my pocket but I go
The Egyptian knows I have words
stuck in unwanted places
A writer’s never done
Expressing all
I absorb
I see
I want
I go there
My leftover, unbought books is a heavy stone on my head.
Left there somewhere
An Israeli, an Egyptian, an Ivoirien now –
He smiles.
He takes.
He reads.
He doesn’t pay me
Just these earrings from his shop I take
I wait
A woman comes
and like a wind
she reads
she buys
she leaves
No more hours of talking
No more Chinese food
No more lovely smells from all the oils, and lotions, and precious cloths and sparkling jewelry and ancient instruments with sounds that float on top of the steaming Ethiopian coffee. The Ivoirien has mesmerized me.
I have to stop it
I wait
I see
I hear the Egyptian speaking to me
He sells me on his ideas
Never materialized
Just there
and good
And then
the German comes
with his very dark
and equally lovely
Dominican wife’s
and this small presence
fills the entire room
I see
I laugh
I touch
We gather
I leave
Did I use my words wisely?

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