Humanist Perspectives: issue 173: A Poet’s Voice

A Poet’s Voice
by Elka Enola

Elka Enola is interested in all the performing and visual arts, as well as in history, other cultures, photography, travel, architecture and food. Her poetry has been published and translated nationally and internationally. She is the Coordinator of the Oakville Literary Alliance,The Ontario Poetry Society (Oakville) and Founder of The Poetry Café. She is the Founding Past President of the Halton-Peel Humanist Community and past Coordinator of the Humanist Association of Toronto. She is currently working on a book about The Silk Road based on her journey through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.

Author’s Statement: Coming from an a-cultural and illiterate home, I remember being in grade 5 and, for the first time, seeing a book of poetry. Many years later, when driving through Kicking Horse Pass in the Rockies, I leapt from the car and proceeded to declare, at the top of my voice, the poem “Kicking Horse Pass”, published in that book of long ago. A successful work of art, no matter what the medium, should have an immediate and profound connection with the viewer/listener/reader. Many of my poems are based on my photographs which accompany the poem.
How Do I Know
How do I know
if my Muslim neighbour
walking the dog
is a bomb builder?

How do I know
if my Christian soccer-dad neighbour
will be going to school
to kill girls

Help me,
God of the Muslims
God of the Christians!
for it is your people
who might kill me
when I buy an orange
sit in an outdoor café
spend my life as a teacher

It is your people
raised in religions that boast ‘Love”
with a capital ‘L’
that thrive on wanton killing
of unknown innocent people
doing ordinary things

Tell me
How do I know?

Napoleon’s Tomb, Paris, France

Napoleon's Tomb

Beneath the cross
         the spire

         the gilded dome
beneath the captured enemy banners
beneath the nave

Within the beautifully polished
         wood sarcophagus
within six matrushkah coffins
whatever is left
God doesn’t speak to me
In fact
no gods
ever did

“I have the Truth, the only Truth,”
declared the Pope
to the multi child families
in the poorest places
and to millions of children
orphaned by AIDS.
His Truth is not much different than
the Imam’s
sending yet another
bomb laden youth
to end the lives
of people drinking coffee
or choosing socks
or celebrating a wedding

My truth
without capitals
is the multifaceted world
of greed and hate
fuelled mostly by religions
and infested with power

It’s a major skill
to embrace Truth
even when it hurts

École Pour Talibes, Timbuctu, Mali

Napoleon's Tomb

At first you don’t see them
against the wall
in the shade of the mosque
with a future
as empty as their begging cans

Their sisters are
long gone
sold to other men
for other uses

These boys
orphaned by death
or by choice
delivered to a Marabout
no questions asked

In the early morning, they
study the Koran
only the Koran
using clay tablets
wood tablets
pasted photographs
and then
late morning
when school’s out,
they hit the streets
to beg
for food and water and clothes
and money
for without money
they dare not return

Only those paying their way
get night shelter
with their Marabout
* * *
African Art In Africa (Dakar, Senegal)
Napoleon's TombI come to Africa
looking for authentic Africa
The guts from the past
the gauze from the future.
Something I cannot see or buy
back home

I come to Africa
searching for art
reflection of truth
of the people of Africa

I find instead
the blindfold of Christianity
the gag of Islam

Together they squelch
the African rhythm
blind the artists
and clothe
the naked statues
* * *

Head and Hand, Church of St Eustache Paris, France

Napoleon's Tomb

Hollow head
church obedient
filled with relentless fear
preposterous promises

Eternal yearning for understanding
not found here
not near any church
Hand held out
pleads for more

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