Friday, 16 March 2012

Draft Requiem for an Empire

They came for Saddam Hussein
and got Iraq
(and the oil),
They came for Hosni Mubarak
and got (back) Egypt
they came for Muammar Gaddafi
and got Libya
(and the oil)
they came for the Chagosssians,
tossed them out
and got the Chagos Archipelago
(yes, you don’t know, neither did I
but we’ve heard of Diego Garcia),
they came for Daniel Ortega
they got Nicaragua
they got Central America
and South America
they turned Great Britain
into client state
treat Canada as another state
went for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban
and got Afghanistan
(and oil)
they want to go after Ahmadinejad
they want to get Iranian oil
they keep a Saudi Royalty
they can’t have Africa
(they would love to, though)
they have India (in a way)
and Pakistan (in a way)
are moving in on Nepal
Oz and NZ can be counted on
and EU too (we know)
but the world is not made of countries
but people,
cultures and histories
heritage and pride
a step back now and two strides forward
today is a fact
tomorrow is not a given
time is longer than life
and empires frequently collapse
In a heap
Ottomans, the Umayyad Caliphate and Persia
Byzantine, the Hans, the British
the Holy Romans and Normal Romans,
the Russians and Mongols.
there’s a lamp with a flaring flame
someone’s time has come.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Draft for an Amnesty International Anthem

I want accountability,
but I will not account:
I won’t tell who gave me bucks,
I won’t tell who told me tales,
if you are critical, we say ‘you are vilifying’
but we will vilify and say ‘it’s criticism’,
I will be a tokenist when it comes to Afghanistan
I will not say ‘policy-product’
when my master butchers or tortures;
I am Amnesty International,
mandated to mouth Washington’s script
I am a by-any-means-necessary servant,
I have a JD and work for my pay. 
I am kept.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

‘This is not who we are!’*

(The ballad of Hillary Clinton)

Never killed,
never bombed
never maimed
never sprayed napalm
never looked the other way
when ally never killed,
never bombed, maimed or sprayed chemical weapons,
never assassinated
never propped dictator, monarch, junta or totalitarian,
never made war
made only love,
Nagasaki and Hiroshima are fictions,
Abu Ghraib too
Guantanamo Bay is a holiday resort, didn’t you know?
waterboarding is like surfing
torture a mere tickle
a good-humoured incarcerator-give
to a good-humoured prisoner-receive,
all’s well in the world
we are white
and our track-record is white too
unblemished and bloodless
we’ve taken the vow of celibacy
we walked all over the world
we just made love,
made love to Iraq
made love to Afghanistan
made love in Libya
made love
made love
making love
wherever we go.
Isn’t it time the world said ‘Thank you, USA’?   

*Hillary Clinton, responding to the gruesome massacre of 16 civilians by a US soldier.

Monday, 12 March 2012


Evolutionary appendage and remnant
made for crop and twist,
tint and trim
plait and shave,
the ultimate home-grown
weapon of mass communication,
the ageless ‘I am!’
resisting gravity
and given to selective union,
fluid subverter
of ‘be this and nothing else’
refusing to stand to attention,
but not at bidding,
made for statement,
objection and affirming.

[inspired by the photography of Natalie Soysa and first published in The Nation, March 11, 2012]


Sunday, 11 March 2012

133rd Battle of the Blues

With 'Gamage Sir' at the 2016 Roy-Tho
(for Mr. Ranjith Gamage) 

There is a difference
between temperature and heat
but that was long ago
a long ago of ‘other things’
and ignorance
sloth and arrogance;
was held by hand
and walked through theories
and theories
that meant nothing
year after year after year
until other fears kicked teeth in
and digestive juices churned
and something slipped into blood
into cell and sinew,
but today teacher sat with student
told his story
the humble beginning
and the humble now:
‘don’t use bombastic language;
I like it mind you,
and I will never forget your mother.’
Teacher became friend a few hours ago
he had given without asking
and now says ‘what can I do for you?’
There are moments to bend low
and touch feet.
And that is the Big Match Report
this year.