Jijiga Nights

By Maniza NaqviRedLightNightC

On the way to Elderidge street to view Saul’s work on, well, as later we discuss at the gallery, over beer and wine and under fluorescent light: Man’s Hegemony–Anyway—On the way there, changing from the One to the D to meet Ali at 42nd street, speeding, hurtling downtown —reading poetry, MTA’s overhead, that is, and surrounded by every type of light and commotion and the train’s rattling —pounding out the question it seemed to me–What is slow and what is night? Over and over again and again the same sound. What is slow and what is night? Then, came to mind another town. There, in that quiet and hush in dark’s first blush an inkling of slow and of night when the sun goes down. Then, a single naked bulb, lit and dangling from a wire, each, in each shack teases beauty through a quivering tungsten tongue murmuring of a still and separate universe. In the near black out town, of Jijiga when the sun goes down every shack and dozens more begin to glow and seem to unwrap themselves like tiny gift boxes, in rows upon rows. And just beyond and out of reach how indeed a sensation begins to grow as the stars too, descend to take dominion over the earth. Every evening, in Jijiga’s night and slow, every shack unfolds its own magical show. Which illuminated, so, each a miniature carefully curated. Colored tarps stand in as walls in emerald, turquoise, orange, blue along the narrow Jijiga dirt roads. Day light’s hovels by night transformed as though each one a story’s page. Or each one a framed painting —Or, perhaps, each a window onto something else. Or each a separate theater set or a stage. There, look, just beyond the glow a silhouette of a warrior, in shadow, chewing chat taking a rest from the undeclared war for his oil and gas. For which the script directs that he will lose to a foe, a stronger and a most unwelcome guest, sneaking, slinking and slithering in. A year, perhaps, to photograph all this? Another two perhaps to write it all down? And then to sketch and paint it too—for display in some far away space and perhaps to win accolades? On the way to Elderidge street to view Saul’s work on, well as we discuss later at the gallery, over beer and wine and under fluorescent light: Man’s Hegemony–Anyway—On the way there, changing from the One To the D to meet Ali at 42nd street, speeding, hurtling downtown surrounded by every type of light and sound I thinking of what is slow and what is night: In Jijiga’s quiet and hushed streets a single naked bulb, lit and dangling from a wire, each, in each shack teases beauty through a quivering tungsten tongue murmuring verse of a still and separate universe.

Lions and Hyenas

No I never heard them fight,

The lions and hyenas late at night

I guess I slept too well in Jijiga.

Gathered there as we were,

Us—

With all the feigned piety involved for

Transfers

Ourselves,

Migrant workers at a high price

Exchanging astonishments for all the places in

Common:

Last promotions, last stations

Last incarnations.

You too? No! In Dushanbe?

1996 and 2004?

Kabul—2002 through six months ago?

Well of course!

And now Jijiga!

What are the odds of that?

No I never— heard them fight

The lions and Hyenas late at night

I guess I slept too well in Jijiga

The Woman of Jijiga

They all chat here about one fact here

That, you own, your own aero plane

You’re the big boss here,

The main dame here.

Everyone is in flight here

High as a kite here

Because of the business you are in.

You’re the one who’s made it big here.

You are, the richest, here,

The self made woman here.

Zahoura.

From street corner injera to taking them to the stars.

Everyone here, flies all day here

Everyone’s high here

Because of the business you are in.

From the streets to the stars

Why sell injera

When there are leaves to chew?

Dawn to dusk here they fly here

Everyone is high here

Because of the business you are in

They all chat here, about the fact here

You own, your own aero plane

Everyone is in flight here

High as a kite here

Because of the business you are in.

Two Goats

In Asabetaferi on our way

To Jijiga

We stop at a bar.

Two goats walk in:

One black with a beard

The other’s white and without.

The barman tell us some facts

That these two animals never part

Where goes the black one, the white one follows.

Anyway on the way to Jijiga

In Asabetaferi we stop at a bar

And two goats walk in

The black one drinks only beer

And is called Osama Bin Laden

The white one, you guessed that,

Is called George Bush

And chews only chat.

Two goats walk in.

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