On Garbage

I know many of you who know about this blog may be thinking, “i thought you said this website would be about art, design, poetry and other fun stuff.” I am getting there…I promise.

It’s just that Mali is a really rich and complex place and before I can begin to understand the art I am trying to understand the how, why and the where from which their art is created. Being here (in Mali) and watching how some segments of the art world functions, I notice that we  (some artist in the West) place a lot of value on detachment and restraint in the work. Here, of the artist that I have seen or heard about thus far, their focus always seems to be on creating work that is connected to family, community, nation, etc..these appear to be of the utmost importance.

So it is in that spirit and energy that I share these thoughts…

My journey thus far here in Bamako has been a humbling and inspiring one, the sincerity, authenticity, ingenuity, and generosity of the Malian people has been very comforting  and have made the challenges of this transition much easier to bear.


Garbage…I never think about it much, I don’t think I am unique in this regard. I don’t think the average American thinks about it beyond the curb we put it out on before someone comes, picks it up and takes it out of our sight.
Because our trash, is for the most part, out of our sight (at least for most of us), we tend not to think about. In Bamako, there is nowhere to hide from trash, this is not meant to be an indictment of Bamako, just an observation. I have a whole other post about international aid, infrastructure and development work, perhaps one day that will find its way to the interwebs…
So I could say a lot more, but I won’t….Anyway…I was sitting around scribbling, thinking about all this and this draft came out:


Waste -Waist

I am losing weight, my mouth
is shrinking, my stomach is now
right-sized for my eyes

I have seen where everything goes
to die, things the earth cannot swallow
cannot return to dust

litter is landscape,
the usuable burns

When I take out the garbage
I feel shame, oversized trash bags

say greed, say I own,
say consume/d.

before nightfall, what I thought waste
will be in someone’s home
or stomach.

In the morning I will
stare at my refrigerator
& ponder its rotten swell

One thought on “On Garbage

  1. Interesting, Fred. “litter is landscape” is an awful thought but I can see it so frequently in the developing world and in parts of the US that are struck with poverty. Keep the observations coming. I’m curious about the difference in artistic restraint and art connected to community. Interesting. Hope your time there continues to be rich and good. Hope you and Melanie have a beautiful Christmas.

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