portrait of a lotto prophet as savior of the people - Prince Mensah


Yesterday –

he gave the oldest woman
a necklace of jasper,
treated the old men
to bottles of whiskey -
every time you saw the man,
he held a newspaper -
the young women said
he was funny and frisky

he spoke about numbers
as keys to our success,
he sold us the idea of chance
as the answer to circumstance -
under the Odum he lectured us
in mysteries of randomness -
under the sky he made us see
how easy it was to become rich

Today –

the day is young as old roosters chase
plump hens in between hourly crows -
there is a line of women walking
to and from the well with pots of water,
whispering to themselves as they pass him,
turning to steal glances at him -
they say these words among themselves:

he is like a god with numbers
his mind is so good that chance is his mistress,
good fortune is his concubine -
there is nothing under the sun
that he can desire and not have


the men need a way out of the disgrace
of nothingness and it seems that man knows
his stuff as he faces the crowd, talking
about magic numbers and how better
he could make the lives of men who listened to him -
promising fortunes with his master plan -
they say these words among themselves:

he is like a god with numbers
his mind is so good that chance is his mistress,
good fortune is his concubine -
there is nothing under the sun
that he can desire and not have


fathers want their daughters to marry him
sons wish he was their father
wives wish he was their husband
villagers wish he was their chief
the chief is afraid he could
stake a claim to his throne

it seems number-shuffling can replace
hard work and offer comfort from blows
of an existence that keeps stalking
our peace of mind and makes us bitter -
we gather money and give it to him
as investment in his miracle-plan -
we say these words among ourselves:

he is like a god with numbers
his mind is so good that chance is his mistress,
good fortune is his concubine -
there is nothing under the sun
that he can desire and not have


fathers want their daughters to marry him
sons wish he was their father
wives wish he was their husband
villagers wish he was their chief
the chief is afraid he could
stake a claim to his throne

Tomorrow –

the day came when he was supposed
to return but he did not -
some say he might have been a god
sent to test our love of money,
others say something bad might have
happened to him on his way back,
the rest still look forward, each new day,
to his return with our fortunes –


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