Shutter Speed

Two Africans
Joined in history
With a gift for
Clicking at the right moment,
Taking the decisive shot, and
Capturing the hope of independence
After lifetimes of colonial rule

Their photos showing young people
With the promise of love
The duty of commitment
The certainty of youth
One going on to celebrations of his skills
The other conscripted to an unfortunate celebrity

The first man, fortunate, cameras and prints in tow
Would head to Monaco
Where the glitterati would stand in clean museum light
Fawning over his works
While the other would
Wrestle with crutches and glaucoma
In the exhaust clogged streets of Niger
As a beggar enslaved by indifference and ignorance
From those only one unforeseen misfortune
From realizing his proud fall from grace

His hope that the French
Would print his chaotically organized negatives
Into beautiful monochromatic masterpieces
Just as they had for his contemporary
Alas it would not be
As his style was deemed unfresh
In the frivolous world of art speculation
Where what is unique and newly discovered
Is assigned to whoever comes first
By those bequeathed with the accounts
That count for everything

Two Africans, equal as men
Equal as photographers
Separated by circumstance, now
Existing differently on
The continent
Of the wealthy

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