[published here in the International Times]
“we can lead the world again”
from an old english word
previously synonymous with
once more let them join in leading
the world they’ve led.
tell me for i don’t remember it,
i’m unable to locate it on my papier mache globe.
but maybe it got lost,
scattered around the world like displaced peoples,
fragmented by following as you led.
the first ‘a’ dropped like a bomb in vietnam
the ‘g’ killed an innocent child in afghanistan
another ‘a’ shed in iraq, i forget what for.
you can take your pick of which ‘i’ was obliterated in hiroshima
and the ‘n’ – oh that sunk long ago
in the little-known congo river of blood
sourced by my desire, and yours
for a tantalum-rich mobile phone.
is this ‘again’?
or perhaps i’ve misunderstood – forgive me –
is the great british empire ‘again’
the empire that supplied african women, men and children
to all european colonies in the americas?
that must have been a close moment
of cosy collaboration.
or perhaps i should look closer to home
where in flint, michigan, usa
residents have been denied safe drinking water since april 2014
when a state-appointed emergency manager
led by a dollar sign like a septum ring
made the decision to switch its water supply from detroit
to the untreated flint river.
meanwhile in great britain
more than 80 people die every month
after the state finds them fit to work.
you think you can lead the world
i don’t think the world will follow