Thursday, February 11, 2010

Enemy at the Gates: A Poetic Meditation on the Jos Crisis

Enemy at the Gates

The beast rises from the deep

Baring fangs of twisted metal

Festooned with flesh torn limb from limb

And the blood of generations born to bleed

In times of presumptive peace

For those seasoned in lifetimes of war

Again, there is talk of enemies

Of alien others and demon strangers

Baying for our blood at the barricades

We hear rumours of war

Conspiracy theories and unsubtle spin

Quickened from front pages and nightly news

Via cyberspace and mobile phones

Summon dread and hate

In prayer meetings of the beleaguered faithful now turned séances

Whisper it in the dark

Over fresh corpses and still smouldering carnage

The enemies are abroad and there are strangers among us

Learn the secret codes of unspoken intent

Etched in marks that are not of our own tribes

Subtle stripes on dark cheeks scream:

“Slash the enemy from ear to ear;

Gut him before he guts you.”

Shadows of demented wolves

Lengthen in the pale light of a darkened crescent

Hungry warriors of a wretched brood

Enchanted by the battle cry of the dead

Hasten to the summons of the sirens

To the bugle that calls for holy war

By the bonfire of crooked crosses inflamed with unholy ardour

Enemies will be named and shamed

Claimed or maimed by lynch mobs with God on their side

If not the infernal legions of abominable martyrs

The enemy is at the gates

On our threshold knocking on doors not without but within

Stir the brackish waters of the whirlpool that is the heart

The beast lurks here

In unexpected depths and uncharted regions

In the abyss of the Gadarene herd

The mirror cracks in the instant of self-revelation

When self-righteous masks slip to reveal

The hideous alien other;

The fearsome stranger that must be destroyed

The crack is the fault line rippling through

Land cursed by fraternal blood sport

Wastelands irradiated by mutual abhorrence

And malice as unyielding as the grave

But the rift is within

Disfigured souls rent asunder

By the beast borne deep in psychic marrows

Breaching the gates from the inside

There the enemy rests

To rear its head and strike unexpectedly in unwary hours

Till we aim our weapons inward

And exorcise the infernal legions

That war within these stately citadels of the self,

Where Ego, id and superego nestle

Resplendent in the temples of St. Narcissus;

These white-washed sepulchres

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