Olivia Byard: Two Poems

Mansa Musa’s Hajj (1289 AD) When the richest man in history racks up in Cairo, the awed denizens, dazzled by his retinue— twelve thousand slaves each carrying gold bars, heralds in silks bearing carved golden staffs, eighty fine camels with full sacks of gold dust— are doubly wowed when the ingots are handed out like candy, to the crowd. But Cairo’s fragile gold-market, buoyed up by scarcity, flooded with Mali gold, capsizes—and worse is yet to come— fables grow of fabulous wealth, the over-lucky to be plucked, thousands dream and hack their way back to the source —Mali is upturned,…

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