A Matter Of Trust

Invisible in the crowd, he goes through the motions,
listens to the speeches, the tinny blasts
of heroic music, punches the air
for all he’s worth and cheers with the rest
when the party cronies on the stage,
not men he has much faith in, give them the nod.

His mind, though, takes in nothing beyond the noise,
men’s voices roaring approval
when the leader’s latest squeeze sashays out,
waves and blows them all kisses,
her pendant earrings glittering like knives
as she leans into the mic to swear she loves them.

Listen to the din.  You’d think we’d none of us laid eyes
on a gold-digger like her before.
He must calculate we’re as daft as we look, too,
if he reckons we’ll fight harder for him
because of her, if he thinks people’s trust grows on trees.
So how come obeying orders was so easy?

It’s a question he’s asked himself a million times.
We’ve to put the fear of God into them, make them
believe it’s the rebel militia, not us,
doing the killing.  That’s why you’ll be wearing
captured uniforms.  Those are the orders.
The escape route to the frontier’s got to be cut off.

First light, a bunch of refugees pushing barrows,
carrying bundles, a few in mule-carts,
half-asleep the lot of them.  A perfect set-up.
Afterwards, he’d helped finish off the wounded,
men, women, one or two babes in arms.
No one left to blab.  He’d even killed the mules.

Ken Head

If you have any comments on this poem, Ken Head  would be pleased to hear them.