3 conversations from Stone Town

( Zanzibar)

1. The tout
“Tomorrow you go to Nungwi?”
“Hi brother, remember me from yesterday?”
Lean, smoky, throaty, Zanz-American slang.

2. The only wife
“Men, they are all cheats,” says Talhia, fifty something, at the office. Meanwhile Halima, thirty something, a second wife, smiles.
“Four wives. I tell you it is unfair,” Talhia continues.
Halima keeps smiling.

3.  The pebble
on the shore, blameless
luxuriates under the sea.


As the old Japanese man pours juice, I stand back as would be expected from someone from the east – as would subtly lowering your gaze in the company of women you know tangentially. But where do these cute little tokens of eastern apology stop and blur into the sort that expects you to stand up when the big man enters the room and stay quiet when he speaks

snuffing out nuance before it can take form?

To treat the old man with less deference
is to fight the small fight
that matters
(and it might just save you from screaming out your throat dry after the water has run its course).

Morning walk in Zanzibar

Walkers, runners,
scattered football, girl basketball team (one with veil),
green like it is growing out of fashion,
trees, wise, tall.

Man on bicycle shadow boxing with an intent
gaze on his imaginary opponent,
women (mostly veiled) going somewhere for sure,
hospital abuzz with hospital activity,
green like it is growing out of fashion,
trees, umbrellas giving shade.

Young Indian in car, fast,
blind to the football, the walkers,
the bicycles, the trees, the