Beat the Drums: Send Smoke Signals

by Sheila Desmond

There are never any explanations
never any explanations
never any explanations

It all takes place
under cover of the dark
under cover of the dark
oppressive stealthy secret dark

Something official is flashed at you
flashed at you, flash, blinding you
flashed at you, blinding, bludgeoning
authority

Nothing human inhabits those uniforms
booted, belted uniforms
nothing human nothing
in those uniforms, nothing but
arrogant violence

Premonitions come true with
a sinister tap on the shoulder
that tap
on the shoulder
sinister tap on the shoulder
ferocious intimidation

Naked without name
naked without country
naked away from family and friends
you have no recourse
no recourse you have no
recourse

Irrational illogical unreasonable
repeat it, confess . . . irrational . . . confess
illogical . . . repeat it . . . illogical . . . guilty
unreasonable . . . guilty, irrational, guilty
unimaginable horrors . . . terror, torture
interrogation

Fury burns the body, breaks the bones
fury burns the body, breaks the bones
impotent fury kills and maims
kills and maims impotent fury
forges chains

Freedom floats mockingly from the
funeral pyre, floats mockingly from
the funeral pyre, floats above
the funeral pyre and escapes
unscathed
escapes unscathed…………….

Written in October 1987 for Nelson Mandela.

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