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Steve Haskin: Two Poems
Nairobi | In the Stieglitz Gallery


While drinking gin and tonic
in a sidewalk cafe in Nairobi,
amazed by the blondes and the
turbans and the seven shades
of brown that we call black,

I read the International
Herald Tribune, the alcohol
takes effect and I say to myself,
I will remember this moment
for the rest of my life:

the Coca Cola signs, the yellow
taxis, the leopard skin coats,
the fascinating English of the drunken
artist whose breath is intoxicating
hanging on my shoulder weeping

for his dead mother, the perfect accent
of the Hindu watercolor salesman
showing his wares before he is driven off
by the waiters, the bright red scarf
of the woman riding by on a bike piled

with baskets, the pungent exhaust of
passing buses, the food frying near
the cart of the sidewalk vendor,
incense from the shop across the street,
perfume of the woman in high heals,

Uzi nonchalantly hanging from the shoulder
of the soldier standing so close I could
touch him, even the pebbles in the cracks
of the sidewalk, all beneath a sun blazing
in the equatorial sky.

In the Stieglitz Gallery*

It is here,
in the Stieglitz gallery,
that I last love my father.

Beyond the jade mountain
and the woman in her veil
I push his wheelchair

down marble corridors
to this doorway,
"Stieglitz in New York".

We enter and turn to the right.
The gallery walls are lined
with black and white photographs.

The only color I see
is the pale blue
of my father's eyes.

We begin our long journey.
The steam rises before a lamp post
along snow-rutted Fifth Avenue,

rectangular lines
of bricks and windows,
seen from 291.

Georgia's impassive body—
a landscape
I long to climb.

Then pictures
far from New York:
pebbled stairways of Bellagio,

fishermen among
white-topped piers,
blazing-white sails.

We pause before a boy
staring angrily at the camera
and the mustached man behind it.

How eagerly
my father's feet
tap the floor!

He longs to run again,
down the sidewalk,
past Schulz's barbershop

on the corner of Selby and Dale
to the house on Hague Avenue
with black-curtained windows

where his father waits,
banished by blindness
from the light of the world.

*Editor's note: The Stieglitz gallery is a permanent installation at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Poet's Biography:
  Steve Haskin is a student in Hamline's MFA in Writing program. A professional musician with two CDs of original instrumental music, he has been a music teacher at Minneapolis Community and Technical college for over 15 years. He has poems forthcoming in Red Rock Review and Luna.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.