Hal Fleming , Author

The Brides' Fair & Once Upon a Storm and other works

title Stories Of West Africa

See column to the right for stories on West Africa where the author lived for 4 years and traveled extensively on various missions over the next 20 years .The first story, The Gray Ape Who Loved Canapés was published by Cadillac Cicatrix in 2008. The second, The Early Termination of Adrian Wilder was published by The Jimston Journal in 2007. Other stories including, L'Affaire Americaine will be posted soon.The following poem, Korhogo Road  appeared in Across the Long Bridge, An Anthology of Award Winning Poetry in 2006

                           KORHOGO ROAD

Just turn at the sign for Dikodougo. The place the arrow

Marks is nothing but a yam village eroding into earth,

The young gone off to offices on the coast, their mothers

Of gnarled root breasts still balancing great plastic basins,

Still treking from the water source. The women pause

To note if your jarring, clamoring machine now brings

Home any of their alien-shirted, hard-shoed sons.

A misleading sign, but it will meet the main route north

Where the bush becomes plains with egrets pecking

At their tithes of grain and cook fires tracing up

The horizons, changing patterns from a scatter

Of compounds where the true artisans are found.

Now going down this narrow corridor, the trees arching

Out the sky, your red laterite dust blocking most in view,

It is unlikely that anything wishes to exist, for all

That is evidently verdant and rich. No most have fled

To the coast or to the Northern plains, and little else remains

But these withered women with their ladened basins.

Your companions tug, plea to stop and snap that mask-like

Face, that waving child, the tree with three story fluted roots.

But you persist, advising of breaking down in all of this,

Which stills, and, too, the questionable running of the bac.*

You arrive, the new sun swelling out the night's smears,

Your coffee thermos rattling you alert, your comrades pressed

To you and to each other. The bac is gripped by ropes against

The current, and in the moving river black girls bathe

In the bare refractions of the dawn. Oh, you know the scene:

"Give me something, mister. Where's your gift for me ,mister,

Who can plunge so completely into this African perfection?"

On the bank a mademoiselle sits with proper rod and reel

Her white straw hat furls ribbons against the now persistent sun.

Your fatigue conveys she is but some Renoir vision, but then

The chanting begins. The boatmen start in cranking up the cables

Of the bac and impatient engines spark for the Korhogo Road.


*bac- a ferryboat, in this case a small car ferry, pulled across the river by cable