The signs sprung up (hastily-Sharpied bits of cardboard

Overhung on the state-issued signs greeting the unwary passer-through

With the aid of haphazard concoctions of chicken wire secreted away

From the university’s working farm at Dilmun Hill)

With the exhortation to their fellow world citizens

Welcoming them to “FreeNelsonMandelaVille”.

Eventually their efforts (with a minor assist from the U.N.)

Achieved the stated goal of their manifesto, and the general feeling

That something should be done—no less energetic

For its lack of a clear focus—moved on to other ills,

The international situation being grave as usual—leaving the town

To go about business as usual:  the odd soul sitting on their front porch

At the Spiritualist camp browsing the newspaper’s wire-service horoscope

In order to fill the gaps left by the shades of various ancestors,

A pair of forlorn teens (almost surely runaways from the reform school

Just up the road a bit), shambling along dejectedly,

Pants hung low, thumbs upstretched

In hopes of finding a ride to some four-lane freeway

That leads somewhere—anywhere, man—that isn’t here,

Fortyish hausfraus power-walking, slightly less enthusiastic poodles in tow,

Past the elementary school—WPA-issue edifice of brick

With neo-classical pillars and porticos, held together with spackle, duct-tape

And hope—where the facilities crew is bringing down one of the ancient elms

Which once flourished here but, due to the passing of time and the arrival

Of invasive species, now find the climate increasingly irksome.


One thought on “freenelsonmandelaville

  1. I’ve known you for nearly three months now, mainly through reading. I learnt that you are a mister when someone mentioned it to me unintentionally when she referred to you and to another person as the two wise men. I couldn’t tell it for sure from your narrative. The voice is almost genderless except in some poems and a story I remember where the gender is clarified. I once dared to ask you a personal question in regard to how to call you to which you answered, “Please, call me W.k.” and I have respected since then your right to remain anonymous in certain respects, no questions that is. But today you surprise me with freenelsonmandelaville, because as far as I could tell from the general run of your work, this was quite an unusual literary move on your side. The style, the parodies and the descriptions are like the usual – and most enjoyed – but my astonishment at the change of the locale is now slowly vanishing. Only my curiosity about the identity of the writer is slightly increasing. .

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