For Ken Saro-Wiwa

I stopped buying from Shell.
I bought from BP instead
and raped South America as well.

I poured petrol over your corpse
and applied the match.
I turned away when the smoke rose.
I tortured the earth they put you in.

I did not know. I did not want to know.
You lived in a country
in a geography text book
which is prone to such things.
You simply confirmed my opinions.

But the hands
that reach out to me from your grave
at my feet
are just like mine.
One still holds your pen
and the other is covered in blood.

I take your hand and pray
that your pen won't sleep in mine.

But will they listen to my poems, Ken?
Maybe the only writing they can read
is my name when it doesn't appear
on the cheque or the switch-card slip.

But I listened. I heard your silent poem as they
dragged you to the scaffold.

I heard the smooth tongues
of the spades as they dug your grave
and the stamp of their boots
as they levelled the earth.

And we shall harvest your bones a thousandfold
from your soil.

Andrew Hawthorne

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