Re-Entering the Shrines of Zomba


At the gates the guardians have set up cockroaches and

Leeches to protect the shrines from stray iconoclasts


The tax-collectors ominously wink at each other

Weighing the genuineness of your travellers cheques


The secretaries titillate freely about their bastards

Watching your first syllables. The Gods have deserted


These noble shrines. A new religion is born. And when

The sacrificial hour arrives, the custodians first


Surrender to the deception of demijohns, then gyrating

To rhythms of mystic drums , they shovel their satchels


Of neurosis onto the sacred rocks and bow. They seek no

Advice how to bring back willing dear old  Gods; so the rains


Won't come; the rueful lanbs refuse to bleet at the altars

And in the grottos, benumbed virgins put out the candles.


Jack Mapanje

Of Chameleons and Gods

(c) 1991

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