Dog Eat Dog

In some parts of Africa

children are sold indiscriminately.

Slavery is still common, and parents,

with little else to sell

aside from these products of their reproductive organs

may hesitate, but are not wont

to refuse a good deal:

one that will keep them in food

for as long as a year. Girls, especially,

are mostly unfortunate; more often than not

end up as prostitutes, the jetsam

of a society not well known for its civility.

Nor for the longevity of its constituents.

And boys, if they survive, if they are not utilized

as soldiers, as the cannon fodder of the internecine conflict

with which the continent is now so rife, are indentured

as farm laborers: pickers, pullers, crawlers.

Eventually they run off, perhaps

even find their way, in this dog

eat dog world, where a large brain

counts for little more

than how well it works an arm or a leg.

A few of the boys, however, get shunted

to the horse farms,

and a small percentage of these

get to be utilized as jockeys.

And while still slaves

they are coddled for their skills.

And some small percentage of these,

wise in the ways of the street,

saved their pennies, and bought

freedom for the price of a contract.

One best known, Naguum Biendi,

shows his gold teeth when he smiles.

He is rich, and generous.

He drinks his coffee black, as is proper;

And now he has slaves of his own.