Jurgen Habermas and Ken Saro-Wiwa

St. Thomas More is getting a face lift by Choate building company. It’s been going on so long that I’d love to graffiti “In” in front of “Choate.” Dunno how many people would laugh. Maybe not worth the trouble. Anyway, now that it’s on the internet, my position is compromised.

I’ve been looking at my Word documents and reviewing previous short stories I’ve started. I’d forgotten about most of them. The weirdest one was about Jurgen Habermas slipping on a banana peel. Under PLOT, I’d written, goal: world domination.

What is wrong with me? Look at that kindly face.

The one thing I found that I didn’t hate was a poem I’d written after watching a doco on Shell Oil in Nigeria. There was a woman who had had her arm blown off.

Mrs So-and-so dressed for the camera in

Bird of Paradise pink, African textiles

Batik prints and oil-dark skin make a beautiful contrast,

Dear Mrs Ogoni, but you’ve forgotten your arm!

Tsamiya, sanyan, Anaphe moths made holes in your

Wrap while Shell made a Tophet of your fields

What do you think of predyed black cotton?

Who is the man with his

Back to the East, to know you prefer

Incarnadine scarlet, carbolic red to any mute mattes?

The nine are swinging, Mrs Ogoni, they say

It took several tries for Ken.

Your company chants in

A holy cinderblock nave and Shell is ignoring

Your petition to heaven so the antique

Semi-automatics put a bullet in your raised left arm

Protesting while the militia

Burned Mr. Ogoni’s compound and wasted limbs like still-wet roses.

Angel wings are at a premium, but you’ve traded in your arm

For a halo which is ripping my heart out.

I’m sure you can find an arm somewhere around.

How about recompense for blood and toxins, as outlined

Drain the land, or hell, just burn it

Sprout black children from the soil

Persistent growths spoonfed corruption

Which inevitably will leave swollen bellies.

Mrs. Ogoni is driving on empty

the everlasting flames and thick crud smoke

merging profanely with white cumulus

in the shape of Ken Saro-Wiwa,

bleaching somewhere in a government grave.

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