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                Maiduguri Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka

                                           by Richard Stevenson

Rosy Guest Inn 
What's that?!
A knocking shop?

Not golf clubs for sale
but vulture heads-and-necks
beaked to the bowl

Daheru's business:
selling water from my taps
Villagers line up
with yokes and rusty buckets
from huts across the tracks

Road kill is it?
Something indeterminate 
in a white singlet

To avoid beatings
hold-up candidates carry
wads of single notes

In a go-slow
thieves work the cars on foot,
pass collection plates

(Lagos, Nigeria)

Outside Leventi's: 
artificial Christmas trees
three lepers with bowls

Harmattan ...
The old crooner himself
sings  White Christmas!

Swish, swish,  flush ...
Sale holds the shirt collar
for the rinse cycle

In the bath tub
on a paisley island shirt
chameleon grins


knocking shop: British slang for a house of prostitution

vulture heads: this is a literal observation, not surrealism!  Vulture heads-and-necks are sold in the open market as a kind of hasty tasty fast food treat.

Daheru's business:  Daheru was my miguardi ( corruption of English, my guard, a cat who sat on my doorstep with a quiver of poison arrows, supposedly guarding the premises.)  He's found himself a little sideline selling water to the peasants from Walari Ward across the tracks.

Road kill:  Hard to believe, but the description is one of a pedestrian in a white undershirt run over and pasted into the tarmac!  A friend in Lagos reports the body was still there eight hours later!  Of course, there is no ambulance service in Nigeria; the body needs to be claimed by a living relative.

To avoid beatings:  Folks literally carry Timex watches and at least twenty dollars in a hip pocket in the event they are robbed ... so they don't get beat up by the thieves for not holding!

Go-slow: Nigerian slang for a traffic jam: routine on the Abuja-Lagos expressway.

Leventis: a large expat department store chain in Nigeria.

The old crooner in Harmattan: is, of course, Bing Crosby.  A little disconcerting to hear "White Christmas" in the Sahel, but ironic since the harmattan winds from the Sahara create dust storms akin to fog -- not white out conditions exactly, but reduced temperatures and visibility.  During Harmattan, the locals wear toques and Indian sweaters while Canadians are running around in shorts and sandals.  The temperature is just balmy for them ;-).

Swish, swish:  Sale is unfamilar with western plumbing and is literally using the toilet for a washing machine!  I literally did find a chameleon in my bathtub one day, while using the knees-up--mother-Brown method of doing the laundry. ( There are no washing machines in Maiduguri. )

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