30 April, 2005

Hate Radio

Hate Radio

Cool and slick
Like a warm afternoon
A sweaty night
Of flashing lights
And a pounding beat
Songs that have
A catchy line
And a message
That resonates
Like someone unseen
Whispering in our ear
Bright and upbeat
Laden with quips
Announcer banter
Talkback hacks
News bytes
Skilfully edited
Brisk and sketchy
The assurance
The boldness
The underlining
Accusations in a mirror
We are on message
We are on message
We are on message

Willy Bach © 2002

Written on return to Kampala, reflecting on the UN Rwandan War Crimes Tribunal, Radio SAWA in Arabic (emanating from Washington) and the ‘shock jocks’ of Australian radio.

Development Rights

Development Rights

We should all enjoy
The inherent right
To workshop endlessly
At international hotels
Seduced by calm and hygiene
On the veranda
By the pool
In evenly lit
Air-conditioned rooms of carpet
Dressed tables
Comfortable chairs

Our’s is a God given right
To nice refreshment breaks
Sumptuous lunches
Polite service
English gardens
Swaying palm trees
Spectacular views of Lake Victoria
Continuous power (almost)

So busy defining
Human rights
Participants forgot
The right to live in Peace
Freedom from Fear

Willy Bach
© 2002

Afghan Rug

Afghan Rug

I've got an Afghan rug
I have the name of the village
Where it was made
I wonder if it still exists
To weave rugs such as this
I bought it before the Soviet invasion
I'm afraid the importer
Got the biggest margin

I wonder if the Taliban
Remember where they got
Their Stinger missiles
Who taught them how to fire
These powerful weapons

This rug burns deep orange fire
On my living room floor
Hues like the rocks of your mountains
I like my rug to remind me
Of rocks shattered blown apart
While B52s soar
Too high to be seen
With the naked eye

My rug reminds me
How many fibres to the centimetre square
How many childrens' nimble fingers
Made this woven treasure
Now lying sentinel still
Buried in sand

And children of today going hungry
As food cannot be brought to them
Through the reign of terror
From the ground to the sky
From confusion to oblivion
To carpet bombing
Willy Bach © 2001

Safe and Warm

Safe and Warm

Come home, come home the chocolate’s warm
The voices whisper in my head
Treading hard roads of grief
To shake hands with murderers
Soldiers who had killed civilians - allegedly
Those whose trials had been postponed
Whose case notes were lost many years ago
And those whose charges treason
And terrorism need no explanation or trial
Except the nightmares worn on their bodies

And flint stone cottages that stand
For many hundred years
Casually providing a contrasting
Backdrop for hollyhocks
The muffins hot and crisp
Butter melting into the
Air spaces of their interiors
Remembering how weeping
Shambok wounds
Were fed with molten plastic
As confessions malevolently concocted
Found the signatures of shaky hands

Come home, come home
The chocolate’s warm
And I could reach the safety
Of a cup of Chinese tea
When other friends are fleeing
Across borders without passports
While Ministers in Whitehall
Promise to forcibly deport
Thirty five thousand
Asylum seekers a year
Planning off-shore camps in Africa
Smile upon the work of thieves
And masters of ‘kandoya’
Dangerous or necessary
To return to unfinished business

Willy Bach © 2003


Written shortly before leaving Uganda in April 2003, for a five week visit to Britain:
‘kandoya’ refers to the tying of detainees so that their elbows are tied tightly behind their backs and touch their ankles. In this position many die or are crippled for life. This is a common practise among perpetrators of torture in Uganda. Safe also refers to ‘safe houses’ where most of the torture is carried out.

12 April, 2005

Mc Namara Has Spoken

I am posting this early because I want people to think about what war really means. 25 April is ANZAC Day, a time time remember the members of the military forces of Australia, New Zealand and UK, the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign in 1915, the reckless and callous political leaders, the incompetant officers, the soldiers who deserted or refused to fire their weapons, the pointless loss of life and the misery that war brings.

War is still bringing misery to millions of people. Let us not forget the war crimes that have marked so many of the 'triumphs' human barbarity can bestow on us.

If this is a day to remember all the veterans who were killed, maimed and left by their employers to fend for themselves - then I commemorate this day. If this is a day for us to also remember all the civilians who have been killed or harmed by war, or who have been forced to flee and become refugees - then I commemorate this day.

Behind every war crime there is someone like Robert McNamara. Let this man be known for his deeds.

McNamara Has Spoken

Selective memory
Public amnesia
McNamara has spoken

In their pressed suits
Steel trap faces
Each their own
Row of ribbons

Solemn heads
Replaying scenes
From Nui Dat
Long Tan Phuc Thui

We remember everything
Except why they were there
Minds that must live
With the rest of our lives
McNamara has spoken

Shortly before ANZAC Day 1995, former US Defence Secretary, Robert McNamara launched his memiors in which he described the Vietnam War as 'a tragic mistake' and 'un-winable' as early as 1964.

This had no impact on the Vietnam Veterans who were setting out to commemorate ANZAC Day.

Willy Bach (c) 1995