The Road to Rio

Rio de Janeiro has been in the news a lot during the run up to the Olympics– stories about the pollution, corruption, crime, poverty, repression and police brutality, as well as stories about the beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, history. In other words, the usual stories about Rio.

With the Olympics starting tomorrow, Friday, August 5, I offer my poem from Rio .

COPACABANA

[published in Free State Review, Winter/Spring 2015]

We shared an entryway.
Or, was it a space under a ledge?
I can’t remember.  It was raining.
I was on my way to the Pão de Açúcar.
He was just another kid on the street.

We tried to talk,
but he had no English.
I had only a little Portuguese
and a phrasebook.
I don’t think he literally
had a “hole in his stomach.”

When the rain stopped
I gave him money
and left with feelings of
pointless generosity.

I hadn’t ended his poverty
or stopped police sweeping
through the favelas to pummel
the poor into the shadows.

A poem has no value
till it is trampled in the streets.

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