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Sunday, July 22, 2007


by Bill Costley

for Dr. Worku Negash

They came up our rivers with gunboats,
renaming everything in our country after
their gods, heroes, generals, politicians,
adding those names to their new titles.

We were a pretext for their new glory.

We still called ourselves what we had,
but never within their hearing, never
in our own languages, because they
made us learn theirs. Who are we now?

We are still who we are, but renamed,
re-languaged, reinvented as their pupils.

What are we actually learning? Them!

Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union.