The Colonel

21 October 2011

Accept, writes the guru of the moment.

OK, I accept. This is what is here.
This grey-carpeted train. These people,
their Nikes and Havaianas, their knees,
bellies and chests, their palms
and fingers, their little screens.
This short journey.

Yesterday, Gaddafi died.
Frontpage. A blurred shot. Blood
on the famous face. The uneven
frame and louche flesh, the postures
and outfits, the smiles and snarls
no longer relevant. The lines

had sagged under their own
weight. Surrounded, unable
to surrender, holding onto only
the kernel
of his guard,
he ended up in a drain.

After he had the country
under control, he’d handed on
the administrative work
in order to write
his ideas and theories,
publish his revolutionary books.

Did he believe
that something
would save him? Did he think
of suicide? The word
of the Prophet says
No to that. Raging

from balls to gunpoints,
the revengers dragged him outa there
onto the tray of a pickup truck
and fucked him in the ass
with a long sharp weapon
and a camera phone.

It wasn’t the bright death
of a martyr. Many
of the ones
he had thought
were his people
danced in the streets for joy.

Do we have
to wait
for someone
to die?
For all the layers of face
to finally collapse?

As the men, as the thing
came for him, did he call
to Allah? Did he wail
like a man
crucified, Father, Father,
why have you forsaken me?

Or did the child
who, six years old,
playing in the neighbourhood
of his mother’s tent, witnessed
his friends turned to dust
by a mine

throw off
all the layers
at last?