A Distant Thunder
A rifle, and a bunch of bullets,
they gave me on my birthday.
A doll was what I’d wanted.
Said I was all grown up now...
like the rest of them; showed me
how to load it. Told me pick
it up...aim it at my friends.
‘You paralysed, or something?”
they asked. But at six years old
I couldn’t even lift it. ‘Keep trying’,
I was ordered, or they’d starve me
till I did.
In searing heat, jagged shadows
spliced the dust by a burnt-out kraal;
the air, drier than dead thistles -
a barbed-wire fence – ‘teeth
of a great white shark’
or so we imagined in our world
of childish fantasy. Ran rings
around them whilst they dozed...
short lived, though – our reverie.
“What do you think this is?” they said.
“This ain’t no frigging party.”
Our punishment; digging graves
with our bare hands;
teasels stab up
like bared fangs
through the nettles.
“Shame, we’re fresh out of shovels,”
the sick bastards lied.
They owned our bodies, but not
our minds. Our thoughts –
they couldn’t control,
so, we prayed for the dead...
deep down inside.
Petals, from flowers we’d picked,
fell – blue bruises on the veldt;
as we knelt, they crushed them
underfoot; beat us with sticks...
Called us ‘trash’. Said to clean up
the river; that filth attracts more filth...
Just so much flotsam, then...the corpse
of a young girl; braids bound with silk
that drifted like Green Ribbon
on brackish water.
Next day, it was one of us...
a boy of nine who’d tried to run away –
forced to watch as, terrified,
he pissed himself.
Then they shot him...
Given up as infants;
a disposable commodity.
Sold, to the highest bidder
by our own flesh and blood...
like so many pigs,
to be plundered at will.
Our one misdemeanour –
You can’t fight
evil like that
Malevolence, that rumbles on
and on like distant thunder
in rag-torn skies above
their precious land,
and the slit-eyed, slavering hyena
sings its heinous song to the moon;
chained and shackled to the night as it is.
A spineless scavenger...
the epitome of depravity;
hunch-backed – coarse-coated
like scrubland of the plains
will never come again,
and just the lavender stands tall;
still waiting to be gathered.