Rand Bishop

Reaching Out

 

Your voice is sunken,

hollow in the recorder’s

low fidelity.

It tells me I’m (you’re)

not home right now but

if you (I) leave your (my) name

and number after the beep I (you)

will call you (me) back,

beep.

 

The beep is high, impersonal,

says lots of high tech

has gone into this effort

so would you (i) please

compose yourself (myself) and do

your (my) business now,

time is money,

you (I) have twenty seconds.

 

I flounder, thrown off guard

by the machine voice,

self-conscious how I’ll sound

recorded a year from now,

hating being told like

a dog now speak.

 

Yet I speak my prisoner of war

name and number,

start a phrase and stop,

knowing you will hear me

only after you

shelve groceries, fix a drink,

sit, listen at your leisure

to my copied voice

while I (me)

no longer think of you (you).


 

Ode to Baboon


Were you and your healthy

liver nearby?

Were you an excess mouth to feed

in some municipal zoo?

Or were you carefully culled

from some robust family

roaming the Ruwenzoris

and in a frenzy flown

Bujumbura-Pittsburgh,

held incommunicado

until the propitious moment?

Were you strapped down on a gurney

paralleling the man

sedated in the theatre?

Were you anaesthetized

before the scalpel slit

thorax to genitalia,

clamps hitched your hide

east and west

and the knife severed

the pulsing purple jewel

passed to the patient?

And after, did your liverless

corpus lie in state,

eulogized, get borne by hearse

to granite mausoleum?

Or did your unused organs

end up in a sack

left in a land-fill dump

in toxins, excrement and clay? 

Rand Bishop has offered English courses at seven universities, primarily at the Oswego campus of the State University of New York, and including a Fulbright Professorship at the Universite Nationale du Gabon. He has published several academic articles, and African Literature, African Critics (Greenwood Press).

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