They lead Imamu through the streets.

The tribe with no father leads the boy

past the money changer, past the pawn shop,

past the liquor store, past graffiti.

They run Imamu through the streets.

Run, Joseph, run Joseph Imamu,

find the human sacrifice-

a man has been driven from his village.


They dress Imamu for the feast.

The tribe with no mother dresses the boy

in a cheiftan’s cap, in his ritual jacket,

in ceremonial shoes, in a dark fierce mask.

They chant Imamu a warrior’s song.

Dance Joseph, dance Joseph Imamu,

grow cunning and surefooted –

women weep for the men they have lost.


They hand Imamu the long thin knife.

The tribe with no country hands the boy

a pistol with six bullets, a hand ax,

a baseball bat, a firebomb.

They arm Imamu for his first battle.

Hurry Joseph, hurry Joseph Imamu,

become quick and terrifying –

children cry for their ancestors.


Joseph Imamu, your moment has come.

The human sacrifice awaits you

at the bus stop by the drug store.

Capture him, Joseph, run him through –

call yourself boy no more.


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