Saturday, March 17, 2012

Joseph Kony

Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has been in the news recently because of the video gone viral, “Joseph Kony 2012.” This terrorist leader has been on the run for years, one of the worst and bloodiest men in Africa, known for atrocities throughout Uganda, Ruanda, and the eastern Congo, yet he seems to lead a charmed existence that has kept him out of the grasp of justice.

The following poem of mine placed third in the October 2006 Interboard Poetry Competition (IBPC) representing Writer's Block--

Joseph Kony

The Lord told me, "Raise a children's army."
So I formed the Lord's Resistance to fight
the oppressors in Kampala. My boys burned
village huts, killed, cut off people's ears and lips,
-- now their mouths stay open, the better to pray
and their ears strain to hear the Lord's words.
Some ask why we did all these things. Why does
a leaf fall? Is it not because God wills it?
When my children pounded babies in wooden mortars,
dare you question it was the Lord's request to me?
Now some name Joseph Kony a war criminal. Yet,
the way of my people, the Acholi, is to forgive, to invite
all to the mataput, to share a roasted
sheep. I will quit the jungle with my sixty wives
for nothing less than full amnesty, the shared meal.
I will emerge from the jungle shadows,
an old lion bringing the wisdom of my Lord God
to the young lions to tell them to let the holy oils anoint them,
a stone sewn into their garments
so a mountain projects to shield
them and all bullets bounce off.
And I will sing in praise
of the Lord of the limping and the lost,
Lord of the empty basket,
of the water turned to blood,
of the severed lips and ears -
the butchered lamb at the feast.

Christopher T. George

Judge’s Comments:

Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning couldn't have foreseen that the dramatic monologue would be put to such use, but that's what the tradition is all about; you take the best from the past and you ring changes on it. Here, a blood-drenched man speaks his mind, and we despise him, yet we understand him. A poem is not going to work unless the reader can say, "Well, yes, I guess I've felt that way myself." We say that after reading this one and then we flinch, not at the subject but at ourselves, at these beasts and angels we call humanity. --David Kirby