In the slums – Beaton Galafa

I was cut out of a chameleon’s belly

Refusing to fall off a tree and burst

On shanties heating themselves up in the sun

That lay like rats massacred in a cornfield

When they found me freezing.

I lay dead marvelling at the maroon on roofs and dust

The knickers hanging in the winds

A heap of garbage to keep the scent alive

The boy in mud ferrying water home in a gallon,

To learn if I could survive a generation.

As it rained kids thrilled their horrors in drains

As some bent backs with noses kissing water

To quench thirst in the heat that followed the rains

And beat dwellers downstream,

Washing rags and dishes to rid the mud and dirt.

A flick of light before I died again

The sun hit on one bright shanty and bounced back

To shine over a group of men and women in queues

Waiting to vote wisely and maybe rise

As a little boy and sewage wondered. If it really mattered.


Beaton Galafa is a Malawian writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His works have appeared in Birds Piled Loosely, Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine, Bhashabandhan Literary Review, The Wagon Magazine, Betrayal, The Seasons and in many other international literary magazines.

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