Shiver, quiver, eyes open, memories scatter here and there,
Before me does my life appear – glimmer, flicker – reappear.
Tot I was, in Sana’a born, safe beneath the silhouette
Of this city ancient, holy, crown’d with countless minarets.
Fie! Image changes in a flash, sailing slacken ‘pon a boat,
Young boy, thro’ Dover’s straits, seeking Lady England’s coast.
Gaining, gaining, with each knot, charging to Aeneas’ Rome,
Docking ‘pon the sandy coast, England now do I call ‘home’.
Fie! Image changes in a flash, youth I stand now ‘midst a crowd,
Freedom, justice, truth and love – for Palestine we chant aloud.
Hope in mankind and ‘one’ race, hope in either have I none,
Anger, hatred do I feel – Lord tell me – what has this world done?
Glut of greed has drown’d a people, in Your name Lord do they turn,
Settle here and thieve there with that great lie – ‘right of return’.
Fie! Image changes in a flash, man I stand now ‘midst a crowd,
Outrage walks into our hearts, and shrieks her ire all around:
‘No more wars, no more wars’, chant one and all in unison,
Iraq does bleed, slowly-slow; ‘Justice’ chokes the child-Afghan.
Truth and untruth, just and unjust, each is now one and the same
In the civic prose which governs, each and every ‘just war’ claim.
‘All for peace’, speak the leaders, stood afoot some nameless grave,
Peace chokes, and spills her swan song, thro’ the gates of Abu Ghraib.
The native dead, a dripping corpse, who knows how much they number?
Thousands, millions – maybe more – Truth in oily wounds does slumber.
‘Obama! Obama!’ Do chant the Kenyans from their hut,
Fear and panic sweep the States, rumours of his phallus ‘cut’.
‘Obama! Obama!’ Did utter many, in refrain,
Arrives he now, man of moment, saviour ‘pon the grand world stage.
‘Change! Change!’ Spoke the saviour, deep into the hopeful night –
O what fools! See we not, ‘change’ is but skin-black / skin-white?
Arise do I from this horror; world of justice? – O I wish!
Fear not, hold your hearts, here come the godless socialists.
No longer do we hear the call – to tolerate and to trust –
In a common, human atom, shaping man from clay and dust.
The world is old, ‘age is wisdom’, so the soothsayer claims,
Fools we are thus, if this life be, but the same mistakes again.
‘Love thy neighbour’, ‘Turn thy cheek’, spoken now with hate and scorn,
Can we find a common ground, with ravag’d minds and hearts forlorn?
So the high, like the low, both must come and forge together,
Equal footing in a world, waiting … for a divine measure.
Sew distrust and sew fear, yet know that Time both stills and curves,
Sinners in this life shall be, the first to reap their just deserts.
Old and foolish man I speak – depart I hence with little hope,
Of things to come, of this race, of justice within man’s own scope.
Ahmed is a recent Classics graduate from King’s College London, who currently works in Social Policy. His poetry is influenced by the works of Lord Tennyson. He has a particular interest in the political realities of post-independence Africa.
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