A Christmas Poem

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[Global: Africa]

The chicken had been tethered for days

Being fattened for Christmas

With a leg tied to a stool in the kitchen to prevent it from wandering too far

To save energy and line the muscle with fat

For stew

The chicken was fed with left-over kaunga, mealie, kwon, posho, cornmeal

It might have been fed with millet grain, sorghum, corn

Counting days down to Christmas

It spending hours sleeping with a head tucked into the wings

Cocking a funny eye towards the woman who minded the hearth

The occasional cluck, cluck, sometimes cluck?

The chicken rested for the days before Christmas

Tugging at its feathers, preening its multicolored coat

Not thinking about Christmas, not counting the days down

No imagining that on Christmas Eve

Some men, some men in camouflage, soldiers might descend into the village

Tearing the peace with gunshots and shouts

Tearing the peace with bayoneted AK47s

Barreling the women

The chicken never could have imagined that to speak no evil

The men might have cut the children’s lips off

To see no evil

Attempted to twist their heads off

The chicken never had a clue that Medusa was a man

A soldier, a soldier in camouflage

The chicken would never have known that a hundred and sixty nine times,

Two hundred and forty eight

Four hundred, eight hundred because at the hundreds, casualties are rounded off

Over nine hundred Congolese nationals

And their exact numbers no longer matter

No matter

No matter how much pain goes into the stifling of that one more life

With the peculiar angle with which the chicken looked at the woman at the hearth

When the men descended into the village

The chicken might have imagined they were from

Operation Lightning Thunder

Which was to flush out the bad people from amidst the Congolese

The men in the village, the men in camouflage might have been the bad people

That Operation Lightning Thunder was sent to flush out

From amidst the Congolese

The men, the soldiers in camouflage who shot and shouted

Then killed and dozed among the Congolese

Might have said who they were

But the Medusa never wanted anyone to speak evil

Or see evil

So they cut of the lips of the children

And tried to twist their heads off as well

So the chicken will never know who the men in camouflage were

If, by chance,

By that peculiar turn of the head

The chicken did identify the Medusa

It might have been just before one of them grabbed the chicken

Tethered to the stool in the kitchen

To be fattened for Christmas

And tore its head off

Let the spray of jugular blood into his throat

Wiped red into his face and held his bayoneted AK47 at the woman by the hearth

Who was going to discover for once and for all

That a knife at the end of the gun

Could go all the way into her body and make its way out again.

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"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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