A retrospective: Banjul

In Banjul:

there are open sewers
criss-crossed by overhead telegraph poles.

there are rusty tin-roofed buildings with moats of standing water.

industrial rubbish lines the streets.

naturally, there is dust.

At the tranquil intersection of Daniel Goddard Street and Independence Avenue,
a man pisses against a wall.
In any other global city
this would be an insult against civic architecture.

But here, public pissing
is a freedom
Only offered
in a Gambia

In any case,
this here poverty
is relative affluence;
in the principal city of the adjacent nation
a dignified but homeless man
is given no option
but to carry out his necessary turd
on the public highway
opposite the restaurant
in which only the white man
is able to afford
to eat.

British Street names remain
by the Cathedral
with its smashed windows
next to fields of goats.

I see only one white face,
at the bank.

I smile
as I walk under
Yahya Jammeh’s grotesque symbol
of modern freedom:
itself an arch of slavery
that only he could drive or walk beneath.

I smile because
stray dogs
sleep under it,
and people wait on its plinth.

The little dictator would be disgusted,
which is why the men and dogs
appropriately occupy it,
in the name of true freedom.

The sun sets,
over those,
who try,
with dangerous tenacity,
to farm goats,
On the city beach.

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