Bryan Murphy 


Tap water on a Paris holiday 
thinned me with dysentery. 
Angola, until then, had restored 
my bank balance, sleeked my cheeks. 

So fleetingly was food on sale, 
you dealt for whatever you could find, 
then learnt, or enticed someone, to cook it. 

Eating for the moment, drinking for the past, 
friends contrived grand spreads. 
Angolans party like there are few tomorrows. 

Yet skeletons reverberate when memory stirs too hard: 
my cleaner's son, who died of malnutrition, 
though I paid well enough, adding food to money; 
the British diplomat's left-over steak donation dilemma: 
to his dog or to his maid. 

Abundant rain fell on the minefields. 
Blood enriched the generous earth. 
Uncut diamonds graced the night skies 
with brilliant Mirages and MIGs. 

High grade petroleum gave every child 
a conscription present to die for. 
We delivered the ideology 
they needed to kill. 

January 1st, machine-gun bursts 
under my balcony welcomed in 
another Happy New Year. 
In the silence, the fishwife's wail 
returned: "Tenho tanta fome para peixe! 
- I'm so hungry for some fish!" 

Copyright 2000, Bryan Murphy 

Bryan Murphy is a translator who lives and works in Turin, Italy. His poetry has recently appeared in Gravity, Snakeskin, Mind Fire, From the Window and elsewhere. 

Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2
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