African Words for My Camera

By Larry H. Spruill

Africa sings colorful words for my camera
abstract poems with delightful rhymes
African people, places and things
weave epic images of surreal ambivalence
poverty and prosperity
wisdom and ignorance
hope and despair
good and evil
life and death
and everything in between
listening and looking
at a romantic African panoramic view of
what was and is…
ancestors, ancient patterned rainbow cloths
weaving the past and present and posterity
cotton symbols laden with proverbs and riddles
scarified faces offering collective
social security numbers and mass IDs
amulets and exorcisms
chants to the living dead
intertwined with bellowing drums
and pounding feet in a nocturnal dance
lamenting a proud and potent past
succumbing to internet cafes
replacing village PO boxes
with living
with no chief
no Vodun priest
no sun, moon and stars
just kilometers and kilometers of cyberspace
cluttered with virtual villages and towns

Africa gives me colorful words for my camera
portraits with divergent angles, textures
and brilliant fujichrome skies
and scarlet mud floors
to pour libations of welcome
to a New Age
bursting with radical shifts
sometimes comfortable
most times tenuous
frightening blips on the global screen
changes blinking in milliseconds
on 35 millimeter plastic strips
recorded transformations
carefully worded and framed
for me to see…to read…to share…
to understand the mystery of how
dust becomes mud pots and
mud pots become dust
before my camera’s eye
Africa sings colorful words
with a melodious heart
of ballads and blues
lyrics just for my camera.