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Addis Ababa Beté

Any thing which you want to do tomorrow , you should do this today

By Maroof razaPublished 4 months ago 3 min read

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Steel kicks in this belly.

Girls with threadbare braids

weave between motor beasts and cement bags.

Tin roofs give way to glass columns.

Stretching as if to pet the clouds.


In the corners: cafés.

Where macchiatos are served

with a side of newspapers.

Early light warming up news

about the cost of gas and the number

of casualties up north.


Past noon: kitfo, medium-rare

unlike my thoughts on politics.

From the other table, ethnic slurs

steer to my ears and a response ticks

on my tongue—

I wash it down with Ambo water and lime.

The acid, sharp like the breeze outside.


The bleat of a goat. Sambusas

sizzling in oil. A Volkswagen Beetle’s

overcooked engine.

All this babble.

My mind fights

to be heard by my mind.


Two stray dogs reduce to a pool

of slobber under a jacaranda’s shade.

And my eyes.

Two plums left out in the sun.


In manicured fruit stands, papayas snuggle

with mangoes. An intimacy I’ve yet to learn.

Never mind the thighs I’ve threaded

with others when the sky has turned velvet.


A billboard winks at everyone on Bole road.



What’s not displayed: the displaced farmers.

Greed and its sloppy lips.


Air, peppered with fumes. Blue and white

Lada taxis itch to dart. Running, a boy clutches

a shoe-shine box while his friend tries to sell me

books at a red light. Always this routine

of money. Even the elbow of the nation can be sold

if one knows whom to ask.


The last notes of liturgy announce the opaling sky.

Women in white empty from a church’s mouth

having rinsed off in sacred hymns.

What remains is like the city’s pith:

halfway between holy and wretched.


I become a moth to neon signs

with misspelled English.

At a bar in Kazanchis, I nurse a whiskey

with ice while men sprawl in booths.

Their hunger, rotten

under gum-mint shisha.

This is a hyena’s cave—

I ready my syruped mind.


Meskel Square, 12:47 AM.

Soldiers carry out their nightly search

on passing cars.

One waves at me and I roll down the window.

How sour. His seasoned sweat

and the displeasure at opening

when being told to open.


Moonlight combs through neighborhoods

and a chill teases the wings of my uneasiness.

Few blocks away, a crowd burns

the nation’s flag as the streets shed

the day’s grime to the gutters.


Within a three-wheeler that reeks

of cigarettes, a tezeta song

pares down the pink sky

to wincing notes.

love poemsCONTENT WARNINGbook reviews

About the Creator

Maroof raza


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