Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Hope Wanted Alive

A red-faced lion raises its maw.
I could be in the supermarket, saran wrap thrown back

but there's Hope Wanted Alive scrawled along
all the mud-slick side streets

where kids roll bottle tops, kids hawk one seed—
in Nairobi the slum blues where I stop, gallery-wise.

Forty children in clean costumes of show-off
purport to live in the two rooms abutting the paintings.

You could drink the sugar cane at the end of the street
or you could set fire to it.

I did see truck tires without trucks. 
I did see ice cream nobody would lick.

And slits up the side of a dress,
and always huge knives that cut, 

in my case, canvas. A big painting
not in celebration of our president

but the red-faced lion, looking 
for the supermarket, kids in claws,

bottle tops for eyes, nobody costumed
who isn't running, politicians

with outstretched arms equaling
—or trying to—hope. I buy it.

Credit


Copyright © 2010 by Terese Svoboda. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Terese Svoboda

Terese Svoboda is a poet, fiction writer, and memoirist. Her poetry collections include When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems (Anhinga Press, 2015), All Aberration (University of Georgia Press, 2009), and Mere Mortals (University of Georgia Press, 2009).

Date Published: 2010-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hope-wanted-alive