Mading relieves Manute from guard duty.
They share a meagre meal of millet porridge before
Manute returns to the refugee nation of southern Sudan.
The noon sun is a harsh sentence for a parched tongue but
they talk not of coffee or juice-laden fruit and
rice and lentils are mountain memories their stomachs can ill afford.
Instead they curse the clear skies that rain only strafing jets and
pray for their dry-breasted wives on pilgrimage to the aid station
carrying children swollen with the promise of death.
They snarl rumours about al-Bashir’s lapdogs
in Khartoum growing fat on food intended for them.
Jason waits, informed by cell phone of Laurie's imminent arrival.
He orders a wheat beer, its earth tone inviting on a silver tray and
its musky sweetness washing away a morning of phone business.
The noon sun is a warm blessing through the picture window but
they talk not of haloed hills or the light-laden river and
recession and retrenchment are market memories their ulcers can ill afford.
Instead they debate '63 cabernet versus '74 chablis and
moan about their reconstructed wives driving halfway across town
carrying children swollen with the promise of private schooling.
They snarl rumours about Key's cabinet
in Wellington while wolfing crayfish and Steak Diane.
With the Christmas season fast approaching I don't wish to be a Christmas Grinch, but I can't help thinking about the people in the world who have nothing when the junk mail and TV ads blast their clarion call for us to consume. Isn't all this consumption the reason our planet is under severe stress?
The poet wishes to acknowledge that a different version of this poem first appeared in the pages of The West Australian newspaper.