Posted by: Viola | June 25, 2014

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon: A Poem
by Viola Allo

For the Cameroonian soccer team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Week one: everyone’s got green jerseys on. For the Lions.
Week two: the green jerseys are mostly going.

Week three: the green is gone, gone, gone.
What blind hunger made us think we could have won!

First, we’re in love. Allez, les Lions! Then the love is over.
This, I believe, is how we feel about lions, in general.

But this, too, is how we love in Cameroon—ambivalent love.
Love: sweet like caramel, then bitter like kola—bipolar love.

The schoolyard game of opposites. Or the household game of
“do what you are supposed to and we will love you, but bring us shame

and dishonor and we will disown you”—love on a pendulum.
Love is a kiss, love is a lash. Love is a seesaw. Love is a swing.

We unlove what we love. We reverse what we begin.
We take back what we give. Consistently ambivalent love.

We destroy what we create; so we make nothing.
We disown what we own; so we own nothing. Borderline love.

A boat with a hole won’t float. And how to save
a vanishing shoreline with nets for fish, not sand?

Try carrying a cup with slick fingers. Try holding a heart
with hard hands. You cannot be on a winning team unless all your losing

makes you surrender to the truth of who you are, which is simply this:
you are not lions. And neither are we.

And we will never be lions unless
we learn how to be a pride.


Much love to the Lions. Keep your chins up! And your cleats down! ~ Viola


Poem written by Viola Allo. All rights reserved. Written on June 24-25, 2014. California, USA. Please contact the author for permission to use or share this poem.



  1. […] This poem, I think took the spotlight this summer. […]

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