Francis Raven




Here's a question: Why does the Congo need two embassies?
According to
The Republic of Congo's Embassy is located at:

4891 Colorado Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20011
Telephone: (202) 726-5500
Fax: (202) 726-1860

I have yet to visit that one.

But I'm not really sure that it's okay to have two embassies. It seems to be the custom that you have one; one and only one per country. What's good enough for France should be good enough for the Congo.

But who am I to say?

Who am I to say they’re not worth more?

I at least need to see both.

Walking directions are in google (beta).
"Use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas."

Walking directions from 1800 New Hampshire Ave NW
to 4891 Colorado Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011

2.8 mi

  1. Head NE on New Hampshire NW toward Swann St NW 0.2 mi
  2. Slight left at 16th St NW 1.5 mi
  3. Slight left to stay on 16th St NW 0.9 mi
  4. Sharp left at Colorado Ave NW 0.1 mi

Use caution when walking in unfamiliar territories encompassed by your own.

At the rate glaciers are receding on Greenland (one tenth of a mile per year) it would take 28 years to travel between the two embassies.

Googlemaps estimates the driving time at 11 minutes.

Using its new walking feature it will take me 59 minutes
to make this diplomatic pilgrimage.

Of course, it might not be there either.
When I call EVE at the Embassy
(her number is listed on the piece of paper in Mobila’s Mercedes)
the recording informs me that
the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is located at:
1726 M St, NW, Washington DC 20036

Ohh, but this is another fault of my shoddy geography:

The Embassy on Colorado is the Embassy of the Republic of the Congo.

(This republic is a former French colony.
This country is small.)

The country that was once Zaire is The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

(This republic is a former Belgian colony.
This country is large.)

You'll never make it if you set sail for the wrong Embassy.


You can see him seeing through to a new thing.

That new thing is the Congo.

You thought it was something else, but lots can happen in the mind.

Many fine citizens have rushed the gates of diplomacy waiting for them to open their iron arms.

What if some poor Congolese woman was being persecuted in America and looked on the Internet to find her embassy

and what if it displayed the wrong address?

I can picture her, cops behind her, bags extending from her limbs

like a Pulitzer-Prize-winning photograph

of democracy

and its failings

in action

or inaction, as the case may be.

Perhaps she would get the attention of Mobila inside, dotting his eyes

and passing the day's paperwork

from hand to hand.

Perhaps she would see the Congo in his heart.

Perhaps that idea would be enough and she could then happily go back to America:

the America around the corner.

Perhaps she would come to believe that the idea of America

could encompass the idea of the Congo, that river:

we used to call it the Potomac.

The Congo River,

to situate


'Zaire' = 'Congo'

'Zaire' was an error anyway


Portuguese explorer Diego Cão

exudes the first white man’s sweat

at the mouth of the Congo River;

perhaps some of that salty exertion

got in his eye, twisted his tongue

as he mistook the local name for the river 'Nzadi' for 'Zaire'

river as road, for Europeans

to access the center without having
to physically cross the continent
to enter while remaining outside

thus increasing the surface area

a skin forms
and divides

a skin that continues to separate

a picture as it passes
by the side of Marlow’s steamer

solidly, the representation clings to the imagination

prevents further investigation around its edges
until idealistically "The horror! The horror!"


might refer to almost anything.

It is this almost that binds us to the norms of diplomacy.

Thus, we have made certain situations available.

Thus, as "[a]ll Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz"

All of America contributed to Abu Ghraib.

A certain smile, thumbs up, ventures into its own perverse corruption.

A picture, in both cases, is at the center

both urging and disallowing questions of the eye:

a blindfolded woman holding a torch & a hooded and wired man.

Neighborly Figure

Just down the street from the Ex-Zairian Embassy (at 1749 S St. NW) is one of the places where Langston Hughes lived (with his mother). He sings (via pen in "We, Too"):

Oh, Congo brother
With your tribal marks,
We, too, emerge
From ageless darks.
We, too, emit
A frightening cry
From body scarred,
Soul that won't die.
We encarnadine the sky.

A term paper, "Langston Hughes Speaks of Negro Struggle," found on the Internet explicates some of the poet's feelings about Africa: "Life began in the Garden of Eden where the Euphrates River flowed from. Negroes in the poem are in the beginning of time. Adam and Eve in the Bible are cast away form the Garden of Eden to labor and toil over the land. This is a struggle. Working the land to feed yourself and family is a hard task. The next river mentioned is the Congo River. The Congo River is found in the equatorial region of Africa. In the poem Hughes wrote that huts were built '...near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.'"

This is a struggle.
We are asleep.

Monroe: The ghost tribe has several levels of "dead." Someone's not dead until they're completely "dead."

Congo, the movie (1995)