Hope Wanted Alive

Terese Svoboda
A red-faced lion raises its maw.
I could be in the supermarket, saran wrap thrown back

but there's Hope Wanted Alive scrawled along
all the mud-slick side streets

where kids roll bottle tops, kids hawk one seed—
in Nairobi the slum blues where I stop, gallery-wise.

Forty children in clean costumes of show-off
purport to live in the two rooms abutting the paintings.

You could drink the sugar cane at the end of the street
or you could set fire to it.

I did see truck tires without trucks. 
I did see ice cream nobody would lick.

And slits up the side of a dress,
and always huge knives that cut, 

in my case, canvas. A big painting
not in celebration of our president

but the red-faced lion, looking 
for the supermarket, kids in claws,

bottle tops for eyes, nobody costumed
who isn't running, politicians

with outstretched arms equaling
—or trying to—hope. I buy it.

Copyright © 2010 by Terese Svoboda. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Terese Svoboda. Used with permission of the author.

Terese Svoboda

by this poet

poem
Dogs slink around her bed in hunger.
Lest you make sacred her image
on a brick, on your drive or thumb, 
she needs to be turned twice a day
plant-ish, in her deshabille. 

Lethargy has its roots in lethal.
This is the truth you must share
or die, the waves over your head,
the waving you're not doing.
Pride
poem
Walking backward from the sea,
scales shedding, you seek the cave. 

This is why the French door admits
only ocean. You stare into the louver

and forget how to get out. Lull
is the word, or loll. The sea returns,

completing your pulse, the waves live,
each breath of yours worship.
poem
Who loots the dew or enjoins
a shadow to guard a tree?

The bird in the pie can't pretend
to arms, its claws rock

the coin in the crust.
The train's single eye

examines the tree that the pie
holds the fruit of,

its engine rasps past the bird
as if smoke lent its shadow.

And the dew? Surely
it's a dark gulp