Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Poet's Journal

My daughter is an anthropologist doing research in western Kenya on AIDS transmission. In January, we went to visit her and our grandchildren. As a writer, I knew that I'd want to keep a journal. While we did some traditional "tourist" stuff, we also were in the homes of Kenyans, and drew curious stares from locals who were unused to seeing mzungu like us.

I have been in third world countries before, but I had forgotten the emotional impact. As a result, I put aside prose, and my "journal" became a collection of poetry. Is poetry the language of emotion? What do you think?

Here's a "safe" poem that grew out of a walk on Crescent Island:


What is so odd
that you look
at us
over the
where you lick
green leaves
off thorny branches?
Do you wonder
how we eat
with only
two legs
so short-necked?

*Kiswahili for giraffe

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau