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.