Onne´ Port

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12:00 at the Onne’ Port dock

With Rita tied fast along side

A Zapata mud boat

I set my feet on dead ground

Heat shimmers through dense air

Sending ripples through reality

Small boys, no more than six

Or eight years old

Hawk marijuana wrapped in notebook paper

By the dockside

Sweat stings my eyes

On my trek to the bush bar

Through a sweaty blur I see

Military policemen standing against

Filthy concrete embankments

Indifferent to pedestrian traffic

They smoke British cigarettes

And pretend that I am invisible

Moving through muddy streets

Of the steaming village

The smell affronts the senses

In the same way that poverty

Affronts the soul

When I reach the bush bar

Two expatriates sit beneath the canopy

A Brit and an American

I join them to drink tepid beer

And to listen to their stories of

Real and imagined experiences

Of wild and drunken revelries

Of murder and martial law

Of mass executions on the docks

Of how they watched, powerless

As the decks of their boats ran red

As we talk and drink our beer

Rough skinned lizards dance

And run back and forth across the corpse

Of a small, fury mammal

It’s body now a play ground

It’s life all ready forgotten energy


It is the rainy season in Nigeria

By 1:00 the clouds will grow and darken

By 2:00 the rain will fall—

But it will not cleanse the ground

Of Onne´ Port

copyright 2000, M. W. Anderson