Envoy: The Benadir Coast – Poetry by Peter Bridges

Stefano Benazzo – Shipwreck, Nouadhibou, Mauritania, 2016
Courtesy of Stefano Benazzo, Photographer of stranded wrecks

On this hot coast the coral cliffs are cruel
And sharp to climb. I run the beach below
Where manatees once sunned. One rack of bones
Is left, and cast-off bottles from brute ships.

On these cruel coasts the sun’s fire is a fuel
For pre-Koranic passions, and the flow
Of blood and tides and monsoon rains condones
In wetness feckless knives, until sun dips.  

At six I watched the glory from my roof
Fade fast. Above my solemn Indian Ocean
Two stars resumed night’s watch, a dead bright proof
Of worlds beyond our world. Their stately motion
Kept on, when corpses lay in the sandy lanes
And Mogadishu burned despite good rains.

About the Poet

Peter Bridges holds degrees from Dartmouth and Columbia and served as American ambassador to Somalia. Kent State University Press published his diplomatic memoir, Safirka: An American Envoy, and the biographies of John Moncure Daniel and Donn Piatt.  His shorter work has appeared in American Diplomacy, California Literary Review, Copperfield Review, Eclectica, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

About the Photographer

Stefano Benazzo lives in Umbria (Italy), having left the Italian diplomatic service in 2012 as an Ambassador. He is a photographer of stranded shipwrecks, a sculptor, and an architectural and naval model maker. He has organized forty personal exhibitions in a dozen countries, has participated in many collective exhibitions, and published books and catalogues. More than 280 articles and interviews deal with his work. He will soon exhibit in four museums in the USA. www.stefanobenazzo.itsbenazzo@gmail.com.

For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.

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