Poetry

George Elliott Clarke

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Repressed Transcript of The Berlin Conference (1884-85)

French Republic (FR):  Just now, Poe’s raven threw itself blackly
gainst the window.
Its wings curdled the grey, noon light.

Kingdom of Portugal (KP):  A grim sign!
Psychopaths love their slaughters
as much as actors love death scenes.

FR:  That’s War:
Endlessly contagious and expansive.

German Federation (GF):  A Treaty will prevent our navies
pinking the ramshackle sea;
forestall soldiers and emperors
suffering that choking-on-dust sensation that’s dying.

Great Britain (GB):  Uttered like a plutonic Plato
Or a Platonist Pluto.

Kingdom of Italy (IT):  Our Embassy furnishes today’s luncheon—
limoncello and lemon-flavoured salmon—
plus pewter creamers from Naples
and a Capri of silver spoons
for the coffee service later….

Kingdom of Spain (KS):  And we supply mescal from Mexico.

GB:  The worm at the bottle’s bottom
resembles an engorged maggot.

IT:  Italy commends Berlin’s imperious architecture—
a comfy cocktail
of Baroque and Georgian and Gothic….

United States (US):  While we tipple this tongue-dazzling limoncello,
we mustn’t ignore the simultaneous business
of preventing the flowers of Africa
from becoming broken petals,
due to the instinctive Mischief of empires.

GB:  But you Yanks bring a shotgun perspective,
a gunboat vision,
to every single Policy.
Consequently, we note the irreparable disappearance
of Red Indian tribes from your Great Plains.

US:  Your keen lenses must yet be foggy
with blood spatter,
if you don’t recall your massacres of brown Indians
at Lucknow.

IT:  Now arrives the situation of coffee
plus plum-coloured Amaro,
to help your parley reach the dove-cooing heaven of Peace.

GF:  What do we stymie here?
Deadly rats biting little black girls;
upside-down burials of African chiefs;
the suitcase materialization
of Caucasian carpetbaggers,
delivering Africans slumping corpses,
or squads of assassins forcing babes
to choke on their own kicked in teeth.

KP:  How awful that Spanish priests
torched the Mayans’ papyrus scriptures!

KS:  There’s always Hypocrisy
in Portuguese Poesy:
Consider Camões….

Kingdom of Belgium (KB):  Sun-incinerated Portugal
likes green wine, Camões’ leaves—
his leaves like peeled off toilet tissue.

KP:  Belgium should speak sotto voce
for your Poetry is paper currency,
what you rip out of Brazil.

KB:  Better that than nickel-and-dime Finance,
the ghastly customs of (Portuguese) Poverty.

KP:  Yes, we don’t have a colony like The Congo,
where every child sports a necklace of leeches,
and maggots snuggle in assholes and eyeholes….

KB:  Africa requires a lining of missionaries’ footprints,
of men as fearless of becoming crocodile material
as moths are of diving kamikaze into candles.

Japanese Empire (JE):  As observers, we observe,
from our Asian purview,
that Europe looks exactly like vultures,
with flesh raining from open beaks.

US:  The sinister litters of Europe
practice honed Dishonesty.

IT:  Dante is our guide here.
Europe’s Afric colonies to date mirror
hellish stewing in sulphur and flame,
rivulets of fire, a torrential blaze.

FR:  On the sea bottoms, black bodies writhe—
all gashed flesh and splintered bones,
A macabre porridge.

JE:  (Aside):  Is Whiteness itself a dishonest Complexion,
a perfidious Complex?

GB:  I shouldn’t understand American Charity,
for it always shields cynical genocides.

IT:  This is the era of Satan.
All our maps reek of Death.

KP:  Poisonous winds propel the Belgian vessels.

US:  Consumptive scrambling for scraps of Africa—
all this ominous chewing—
has an aura of Lust.

GF:  Abandon such Poetry!
Prohibit it!
Europe mustn’t be a cathedral spewing fly larvae.

GB:  The Yank rhetoric is, really,
“Bunkum, hokum, gobbledygook”!

KB:  Must Britain be morbidly global?

GB:  True Diplomacy rejects such bellicose diction.

GF:  We seek a midway between all-out (Total) War
and nothing-doing Peace.

 

[Guelph (Ontario) 29 novembre  mmxv
& Detroit (Michigan) 29 & 30 novembre mmxv]

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