FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Poet of the Week from Malawi: Frank Chipasula

Poet of the Week from Malawi: Frank Chipasula

I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming Sudan secession vote (I guess it's probably going on right now actually) which I realize is weird but when I read this poem I immediately associated it with the situation in Sudan (and the hopes certain groups have) but also the myriad issues stemming from haphazardly drawn borders.  But that's a whole other ball of wax...and admittedly one which I haven't studied enough to make more than one-off smart aleck remarks...so without further ado.  

 A Love Poem for My Country 

I have nothing to give you, but my anger
And the filaments of my hatred reach across the border
You, you have sold many and me to exile.
Now shorn of precious minds, you rely on
What hands can grow to build your crumbling image.

Your streets are littered with handcuffed men
And the drums are thuds of the wardens' spiked boots.
You wriggle with agony as the terrible twins, law and order,
Call out the tune through the thick tunnel of barbed wire.

Here, week after week, the walls dissolve and are slim
The mist is clearing and we see you naked like
A body that is straining to find itself, but cannot
And our hearts thumping with pulses of desire or fear
And our dreams are charred chapters of your history.

My country, remember I neither blinked nor went to sleep
My country, I never let your life slide downhill
And passively watched  you, like a recklessly driven car,
Hurrying to your crash while the driver leapt out.

They days have lost their song and salt
We feel bored without our free laughter and voice
Every day thinking the same and discarding our hopes.
Your days are loud with clanking cuffs
On men's arms as they are led away to decay.

I know a day will come and wash away my pain
And I will emerge from the night breaking into song
Like the sun, blowing out these evil stars.


Some of my favorite poetry books:


  1. I like this dude. I met him once. He seemed very chilled. His outward appearance doesn't seem to represent his internal composition.


  2. That IS cool, thanks for sharing!