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2am Transit in Addis by Allan Kolski Horwitz

Allan Kolski Horwitz | December 1st, 2007 | poetry | No Comments

Ten hours to kill

in the gleaming tiled transit lounge
long like a hotdog
shiny roll spiked with overhanging girders

I want to kill these dead hours

peel Time
nibble Newsweek
to find
half-naked women tortured in fast cars
government press conferences applauding sleek lies
school grounds ruled by steroid bullies

hours to kill

staring at Italian photos
picturesque antique scenes of Ethiopia

how I want to kill these dead hours

but not even the waitress who tells me
it’s 8 birrs to the dollar
can keep me awake
not even her wistful smile
when I produce empty pockets
not even the ex-minister’s memoir
about the Derg’s prisoners
or the one exposing imperialist Aid as a racket
or the prayer rooms that give off
an odour of blasphemous pleasure

can keep my eyes open
can keep me from drooping

I want to burn these hours

trapped without birrs without dollars

outside in the dark
fabled city of selassie
toothless lion of Judah
sleeps soundly as dubai and frankfurt
beckon memory and travel

kill these dead hours!

echoing footsteps
new arrivals
rouse me
gaggle of green dresses clinging to lithe thighs

I sway now not from tiredness

stewardesses sweep out the past
this is the land of the long distance runner
so lithe they must be
high heels clicking new world anthems
dashiki’d musicians play lips like drums
and the hall soars
as shambling bear catches my eye
bushy bearded loping poet
from ghana encountered in chad
on his way to delhi
another talkfest
anther fixture on the international
trail

to kill these dead hours

we greet murmur
then he’s gone through the gates
flight via beijing
and I am left to marvel
booming laugh and strong teeth
west african excess
its rhythmic loquacity
but even our ganga-dancing
philosophizing interests
cannot justify
these ten hours outside addis

fabled city of shaggy lions and armed thugs
organized african disunity
running through its alleys
not dead
not quite alive
dawn lightens the overhead girders
the speculated city
a jumble of buildings
in a landscape of stretching plains
jagged mountains
twisting riverbeds

ten hours

captive in the bubble
of transit
surrounded by earthscape fit to be the
high church of a sovereign continent

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