The prize was delivered with all its black image and intent:

a child’s garbled skull, buried in the rubble

of what yesterday was home

 

Sunset was beautiful over West of Mines,

It could be foggy at Anglo-Jos this time of the year,

but we will not relish such borderline pleasures now, our procession

of bones yodels, backward to the kiln of vivisection

 

To write this is to walk the abattoir of belief,

to awaken the intemperate ardour of listening to easy breathing

of skull carriers, to remember those whose feet had failed,

ravaged in familiar darkness held in ill-accented autos-da-fe

 

I know you too wake up in the morning, fevered with darkness in the headlines,

hearing only the sorrowful stutter of that name repeated

with strange tongues of newscasters, a wrench of mono-syllabic stab…

 

So, can we ever remember the exact moment when we learnt

that a prayer had different names, or that a city, like a myth,

was a code too easily broken?

 

Sir, to write this is to whistle on the left side of the fade,

to resist the white embrace of forgetfulness, to feel in the umbilical

rot of a wagered earth for the echo of love’s failure

 

Still there is always the perfect grit on the road,

perhaps your own war of fusion, knowing the world cannot recoil

enough; perhaps, too, the city’s own grave grace, limping its devastation along

in a spreading plateau of surly mines.

Photo: Manfred Caruso

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