13 February, 2005

War is a fashion statement, don’t you know

Dear friends

If you ever thought that the illegal occupation of Iraq was OK, just explore http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/ check the links and see what the 'free' life is really like in New Iraq. Surely the allies in the so-called 'Coalition of the Willing' will not be allowed by their citizens to follow this disaster with an invasion of Iran. Or will they?

Today's poem begs the question: how did we get to agree to being military aggressors?

War is a fashion statement, don’t you know

These days you can buy
Tart gear micro skirts
In cam khaki
And desert biscuit tones
SAS survival camping kit
Feather lite for family
Spearhead operations

I rescued a cam holster
From Kampala’s mud
To stash my Nokia phone
Rather that than have Africans
Mimic Mzungu wastefulness
And I wear it as an anti-statement

But have you noticed the dress code
Of Liberian rebels and the
New York street-gang names
They award themselves
Bandannas and mirror shades
Real tossers
And bloody dangerous at 12

Have you watched the hi pyrotechnic
Foxtel news action-packed images
Of carnage in Fallujah
Plenty of smoke and flame
Carefully avoiding
The shredded limbs of grandmothers

Have you tried doing microsurgery
On babies
Hard wired to your iPod
With Burn Mutherfucker rap
Breaking your eardrums
Feel it pulsating in your veins

Now you can download the song
To your cellphone
So it becomes
Your ringtone
And you can enjoy mass-slaughter
With every incoming call

Have you noticed how
Like a creepy new belief-system
The sacrament of the Unknown Soldier
Is taking over public religious observance
Yet the limbless and despairing
Silently disappear into their slums
Unthanked by the triumphals

An F111 flypast somehow
Enhances a River Festival
With special tricks from Blackhawk choppers
Militarising our government-sponsored entertainment

The references to war in our sports commentaries
Business-speak and marketing jargon
And personal development
Having a moral compass
Is just plain post-modern unfashionable

Till our resistance has wilted
Under a firestorm of empathy-free napalm
Are you ready to be frightened
By smirking politicians
Visiting a sanitised
Shopping mall
Near you

Willy Bach © November 2004

1. Lite now refers to soymilk, saccharine soft drinks, torture, and ‘success’ in the ‘war on terror’.
2. A Mzungu is a ghost, a person lost in Africa, in short a Caucasian.
3. Refers to the lyrics of ‘Full Nelson’ by US rap band Limp Bizkit favoured by American soldiers going into combat engagements in Iraq.
Lyrics: http://www.lyricsdownload.com/limp-bizkit-full-nelson-lyrics.html

06 February, 2005

He Who Pays the Viper

There are those who believe because
What they dream of is the house on the hill
White colonnades very conspicuous from below
A constant reminder too obvious to ignore
And because of the power the dream imparts
Commands others of lesser means
To carry out their wishes

Sometimes this is done with mindless zeal
Viscous intent without regret or conscience
The wedding cake structure of impunity
Each step underpinning the next
As they sail past in their Land Cruisers
Throwing a shower of muddy water
At the only set of clean clothes
Those who walk afford

I wonder what occupies their thoughts
But once on the escalator
There can be no backward glances
As those you protect also protect you
As you are part of them praise-singing
Their praises inextricably bound
Like the numbers on their Swiss bank accounts
The deeds to town houses in Sandton
To the silence of compromise

Willy Bach © 2003

Footnote: Sandton is a wealthy, mainly white suburb of Johannesburg where political leaders from other African countries are said to own property. Praise singing is an ancient profession whereby the power of chiefs was reinforced by his ‘court minstrels’. Today’s African dictators surround themselves with acolytes, advisors, ministers and military figures who are said to carry out the same function.

Deserting the Fray

Deserting the Fray

Perhaps you didn’t hear
About the Israeli
Tank commander
Who refused to go on
Driving through
Palestinian homes
Following a long tradition
Of Jewish discourse
Exercising his conscience

Perhaps it all just
Got too much
Spraying the bush
Only to find dead children
Who had been recruited by force
Was it the lack of gumboots
The blisters the hunger
The isolation

You left your
Assault rifle
Leaned against the wall
Of Gulu police station
And took the bus

No useful skills
Glazed by the noise of battle
No money no job
No safe place
When enough was enough

Willy Bach © 2002

Footnote: These thoughts followed the case of the civil disobedience campaign by eight former Israeli soldiers and the interview with ‘The Monitor’ journalist, Frank Nyakairu, shortly after his release from detention (after the helicopter down story). UPDF soldiers suffer from low pay and low morale and are deserting at the rate of at least three rifles a day, others just take their weapon with them, perhaps to join the LRA, become outlaws or just sell their weapon to criminals.