Dorothea Smartt (African Writers Abroad) joined the C Words closing Party and Benefit for the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaigners live via Skype. She performed her specially commisioned poem, A Sense of Denial, together with several other poems written specifically to the C Words season and inspired by the issues raised.
A Sense of Denial
Denial looks black, panelled, silver-edged
and gleaming. Car-washed in water
enough to quench a dying village’s thirst,
a Hummer, petrol guzzling in a London traffic jam.
Its darkened windows seal out the day’s cool breeze,
to keep in an Air-Con fool, a lone driver in his third car
the one that’s just for fun! The tred of the rubber
tyres bouncing me back to trees tapped
of their strength to let us breathe.
Denial is the clicking of a million light switches
going on as the sun sets in the North (and scorches the South).
A single home lit by countless careless bulbs,
the hum of its appliances on stand-by. While
clicking fingers coat the keys of a Playstation,
and a car chase roars from the DVD on the plasma screen,
while someone else plugs into a symphony of jungalist beats.
Denial is the burning smell of toast,
a third round of single slices under a gas grill.
Or the blackened burnt out wreck of once Ogoni land.
Stepping out into the city’s morning traffic fumes,
smog clogging a child’s breath, inhaler at the ready.
Stopping to pick up the rich roast of coffee in a Starbucks mug,
and an over-sized, under-nourishing Big Mac for lunch.
Denial is tasteless, with a dash of MSG making all falsified
flavours more amplified. Even the blandness of the water-fat
injected chicken, with enough legs for everyone.
Coated in orange crumbs that were never bread.
Garnished with a mutated modified tomato, ever-fresh
and tasteless on the tongue, plumped in polystyrene buns.