Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Poem by Ronald McFarland

Late News from Africa

One brave journalist in Ghana came out
last week against witches, or not exactly that,
but against calling out against witches,
thinking, I think, of the power of silence.

Across the continent in that disaster
called Somalia another journalist
celebrated the winners, all young boys,
of a contest to memorize long passages
from the Koran called suras, suras, suras.
They must pronounce the old-fashioned
Arabic exactly, their bold young voices
ringing out in the clear desert air,
almost singing as they would
sing out for a handful of millet.

But no. First prize this time was not food,
but five hundred dollars U.S. and an almost
new Kalashnikov with four clips of ammo.
Second prize, two hundred bucks and a somewhat
harder used Kalashnikov. Third prize,
how curious, I think, four hand grenades.

Ghana currently boasts the world’s most rapidly
growing economy, almost magically, I think,
as if some witch held her withered finger
to the fiscal trigger and cast a spell.

Ron McFarland teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Idaho. His most recent books are a critical study of regional memoir, The Rockies in First Person (2008) and The Long Life of Evangeline: A History of the Longfellow Poem in Print, in Adaptation and in Popular Culture (2010). Ron’s fourth full-length of poems, Subtle Thieves, was released by Pecan Grove Press in early 2012. Chapin House Books published his memoir of growing up in Florida, Confessions of a Night Librarian and Other Embarrassments, in 2005.

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