Monday, December 15, 2008

Mercy Mission



An overcast day sets the mood expressed on this stuffed dog's face, a chew toy left near the caretaker's house at the Royal Abbey of Chaalis, the ruins of which are the backdrop. Photo taken the first day out with the new Canon 40D in August 2008, which has been the guilty tool for the more recent photos posted herein. The older black and white photos were taken with a Canon A1 which I still have and love for its unfailing reliability... after nearly 30 years of use, still going strong. Many of the digital photos taken prior to August 2008 were on a Canon 710 Powershot; a nice handy compact which was stolen, (by coincidence the same day we had plumbers working in the house...) but which offers nowhere near the level of detail captured with the 40D. One day maybe I'll be able to get my hands one of the new 5D... (in my dreams). Don't know why I gravitated to Canon cameras, I've seen wonderful work coming out of other brands like Nikon or Leica and whatnot. Maybe someday if I win the lottery I'll try some others... and maybe someday if I win the lottery, I'll share some of the wealth...

Mercy Mission
.
I boarded the plan bound for Ethiopia
At seven this morning
Haze hung over Paris as we climbed the sky
This was a mercy mission bringing relief
Everyone should do their part
It’s your socio-civic responsibility
My suitcase and duffel
Were stuffed to overflowing
They were going to love me down there
Where the sun burns at noon
Like an acetylene torch
Where the dust fills your eyes
Like hominy grits
Where the dysentery ridden children
Defecate blood in puddles
Which the parched cannibal earth
Greedily drinks
.
When I deboarded at Addis Ababa
My tennis shoes whined piteously
While crossing the runway’s molten tarmac
I hitched a ride to the refugee camp
In the back of a Red Cross jeep
Some joker had scribbled indelible words
On the vinyl seat: SMILE, GOD LOVES YOU
Dead cattle and dying trees
Mocked me from the roadside
I fought them bravely with my Canon camera
They never stood a chance
Against my automatic shutter speed
.
I walked through the camp gates
Marked by two upright poles
Defying all divinity
With their brazen decoration
Two empty cans of Campbell’s Chicken Soup
A voice clamored uproariously in my head
“ANDY WARHOL WAS HERE”
.
I made my way among the ragged shelters
Typical haggard eyes blinked silently at me
Exactly as they had in Life magazine
I started passing out the contents of my bags
Never had Robin Hood been so blessed
With wealth to bestow as I was that day
Even Santa would have crowed with mirth
For all the little bloated boys
I had G.I. Joe dolls
With miniature guns and boots
For the small girls with distended bellies
There were stuffed teddy bears
And pink slippers
For the skeletal teenage boys
There were Marlboro cigarettes
And Trojan condoms
For emaciated teenage girls
I had hair dryers and curling irons
For the slack-breasted women
There were copies of Cosmopolitan
And gleaming bottles of red toenail polish
For gangling knob-kneed men
There were Jordache jeans
And aftershave by Brut
And for each and every one of them
A packet of Hollywood chewing gum
.
And then I had to leave
I couldn’t stand the sight
Of so much joy
I knew I would be back in Paris that night
With the stone faced Metro riders
And the tired tourists
The winos and whores
The snobs
.
It was depressing to turn my back on the camp
As scrabbling fingers tore cellophane
From packs of Marlboros
As eager girls tried to plug hair driers
Into scorched Eucalyptus trees
Playing make believe
.
But turn my back I did
And as I went I thought
If only everyone was as generous as me
We could do away with misery

1 comment:

the watercats said...

Well, have to say it... marvellous bit of poeting and photographying. I love the little surreal moments of life, that photo just sums up one of the many we tend to pass by every day if not careful... :-D