Shadow of a Gunman
“The bomb and the bullet
are better than the ballot”,
they say it with flowers on graves
and in urban streets,
where the acronymic attacks went on and on.
I.R.A or U.D.A. A.N.C and E.T.A.
the letters sprayed wherever they may
be read with hope or fear.
The road from Sharpeville
always leads to bombs
in Church Street…
The Spear of the Nation
is the people’s weapon.
Tambo and Zuma and Mbeki
are politicians’ names now.
And the dead do not vote, after all,
and better like this, is it not?
For from murderer to minister
would be a bridge too far, else.
Sharpeville or Shankhill,
the names conjure conflict,
- as tit justifies tat,
as an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye
will blind us all in the end.
So yes, the shadow of a gunman is long:
to forgive and forget is for the divine
and the foolish, but more fool those
who prefer the cross on a grave
to the one on the paper.