Kasala for Myself

Fiston Mwanza Mujila

I decided to be happy
to dance the rumba until beat
to take back all my names, shards of the past
to remain the child of the mine and railroad
family memory coupling with the locomotive
exile in the bud, loneliness without end

I decided to be insolent, and unseemly
to spit in the soup of those who defang life
to piss on their supposed good faith
to snicker in insolence
and repent, later, to the Elder Spirit
for how long can they really last?
already, they have made this country a grave

I decided to turn out dreams
as vast, as colorful, as high-flying
as hope
sumptuous dreams
slobbering like tropical rain
alone expectorating the curse
upsetting all in its wake
furious, eternal, worthy of the flood
though this time they won’t march into the Ark
the male and the female
the pair of all clean beasts

I decided to stay the child of Zaire
to fashion derby cars from tin cans
and kites from bags
attaching a long string
and running through the sunshine, running and running
until the kite leaped heavenward . . .
when the raffia string snapped
the zigzagging kite was lost in the sky
only regret remained with us

I decided to dream again
not of walking on the moon or
inventing an umpteenth WMD
but of opening a sort of magical bar
and there to sell not drunkenness, or binges
but hope

I decided to be the one-man band of my days
myself on drums: KENNY CLARKE
myself on trumpet: MASEKELA
myself on piano: TAPSCOTT
myself on double bass: MINGUS
myself on sax: SANDERS
in the background MAKEBA’s voice
to groove from dawn to dawn
and hum for my mother (MA’NANGA) and the stars
Independence cha-cha

Norwich, February 11, 2017

translated from the French by J. Bret Maney