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Tuesday, March 22, 2005


by RD Armstrong

Been reading about Africa again
That dark continent of
Seemingly endless
Sadness and barbarity
(there but for fortune go we)
Tsk tsk tsking my way through the
Morning paper shocked at tales of
A woman drowning her five children
Or a man who devourers his victims
Or a group of racists dragging a man
Down a road in Texas until his head
Bounces off – all this is simply
What’s wrong with people these days

But when an entire country is
Divided by (un)civil war and one tribe
Decides that its neighbors deserve
Nothing better than to be hacked to
Death and raped and/or vice-versa
It barely makes page ten

Or how a woman is raped
In South Africa
Every seventeen seconds partly
Because the stupid SOBs believe
That fucking a virgin purges HIV
From the body

And now AIDS and HIV is
Pandemic decimating the population
With an efficiency that puts Hitler
Pol Pot and Amin to shame
Striking down first the intelligentsia
Then the artists then the teachers
Then their students
Leaving the ignorant to find their way
Or simply wait for death to finally
Appear and take their last
Pitiful possession

I read on and on my heart growing heavier
With sadness as if tears might fall
Here as I sit reading the paper
Over coffee and a croissant
I read a graph that says I’m older by ten
Years than the average black African
That I earn more in a week than
Some make in a year and
I notice there is a growing
Pressure in my chest
As if boney black fingers were
Reaching up off the page
Pushing me pulling me begging me
As if each word was a small round
Stone and each stone was piling up
Each paragraph a bag of stones
Stone upon stone
Being stacked there
Against my chest
So I might know the terrible weight
Of a continent forgotten
Each stone a soul
Lost to ignorance
Each stone a failed wish
Dumped at the foot of
An uncaring world

By the time I finish the article
I am so numbed (stoned) that
Even the next page with its
Numerous well-fed models
Posed provocatively in lingerie
Stirs nothing in me

It might as well be a dead cat
Squashed flat by traffic
Or a small round stone
Lying innocently on a
Weed-choked sidewalk
Where candy wrappers
Blow down the street like
Urban tumbleweeds and
Africa finally makes page one

Raindog, AKA RD Armstrong began his most recent incarnation as a poet in the early 90s. He has 15 books including the second printing of his fifteenth (published by 12 Gauge Press), entitled ROADKILL. He has been published in over 75 poetry magazines, including most recently, the Louisiana Review; Flash!Point #5; The Bukowski Review #1; and Unwound Magazine. He has also been published in many anthologies including, Last Call: A Legacy of Madness; An Eye For An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind - Poets and 9-11; Drinking With Bukowski; Incidental Buildings & Accidental Beauty; and Raising the Roof. His work has also appeared online at over 50 different websites including BigCityLit; Thunder Sandwich; Poetz; and Neidergrässe (Europe). Raindog also publishes a variety of poetry through his Lummox Press, which offers the Lummox Journal, the Little Red Book series (with nearly 50 titles so far), and several other titles including The San Pedro Poems (memories of his days in San Pedro) and LAST CALL: The Legacy of Charles Bukowski (a collection of poems, stories and essays by some 42 writers).