Nation of merchants and goatherds and security guards


It’s all so dreamlike
Even in the intense close-to-the-equator sunlight.
Flowers and garbage,
Tin shanties and mansions,
Vendors on the sidewalk or
Sitting on the bare earth,
Dusty feet from long journeys on weary roads.
Is this nation of merchants?
Security guards everywhere,
There are searches
From the airport to the banks, to hotels, nightclubs, and shopping malls.
Yes, shopping malls.
Police and soldiers, soldiers and police,
But also goatherds and goats,
Donkeys, cattle & sheep.
Addis is so motorized with a riot of Toyotas & Isuzu’s,
Blue buses, cars, trucks and darting-dashing golf carts.
At this point I think this nation is in constant movement to god-knows-where.
In Addis the traffic is guided by some collective consciousness
That constitute the rules of the road.
City police manage the busiest intersections.
Sometimes there are traffic lights…and those are solar powered!!
You have to be a functional part of it to understand it.
“It’s an Ethiopian thang yall!”
The people are a thousand shades of brown with warm undertones of red
But some are startlingly blue-black.
Youth dress with hip-hop hipness or in Ethiopian casual.
There are many men, women and children of stunning beauty
Who appear to be rich, poor and in between.
I keep noticing a casual comradeship between males, young and old.
It’s not unusual to see arms around shoulders as they amble along chatting and laughing
Or even hand in hand.
It seems to be a cultural norm that does not contradict the nation’s anti-gay laws.
The women, the women oh the women, traditional and contemporary!
The ones in current styles could be on the Southside of Chicago or North Minneapolis…
Your sister, your auntie, your mama!
There are men and women in pious and colorful Muslim attire,
And Coptic priest here and there in pious pressed elegance.
Yet, for sure there are far too many in tattered rags…
Beggars, like the kind you read about in the Bible
Are laying on sidewalk – the aged, the crippled,
And the destitute mother with child at breast…
Rapid yet unfinished construction and torn up roads can be spotted from Addis
Far into the countryside, ready for pavement and sanitation pipes…
One day.