History is on His Side

This poem was written on the tenth anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s death. It  is included in the anthology Dance the Guns to Silence, edited by nii ayikwei Parkes and Kadija Sesay, London: Flipped Eye Publishing, 2005.

History is on His Side

‘No,’ he said, No to oppression, No to injustice,
No to violence. Even as he stood before the guards.
The sun was rising proper in the East, blushing the soil scarlet.

Sozaboy was with soldiers, arguing with the heart
of darkness. We all stand before history, he thought, and
‘No,’ he murmured through cracked lips. ‘No.’

He could not wipe his sweat mimicking sorrow’s tears.
His tied hands tried. His crowded heart pounding with the fear
of the unknowable. He mouthed ‘No,’ just before
their fifth attempt to hang him. Who will claim
the corpse of free speech, but those with a pen
to their name? History is on his side. And ours. Yes.