Sunday Read, Cill Rialaig

A glossy picture of Rubaya.
just a place where miners toil for pence;
they dig in descending steps
down to Congo’s brown-red core,
each step is eight foot long by eight foot wide
by nine foot deep (this last dimension
decreasing the chances of decapitation;)
their quarry; coltan, a rare commodity used in
mobile phones and computers;
its high market value lures the usual jackals:
the multinationals, other criminal gangs,
corrupt politicians, fat cats,
each comfortable with their greed,
each steadfast in their right to make slaves of others.

But what of us, the workers, the drones,
Capital’s little helpers, the oilers of its grinding wheels?
What of us, the teachers of false values,
too scared to say when enough is enough;
false preachers of acceptance
too snug to say that This is wrong;
pseudo Coms and cuter Cons
debating shades of pink and blue
at overladen tables;
politics’s scum still plucking the poorest
to feather their own soft-centred nests?

But what of us, the locust tribe
devouring all before us,
leaving nothing in our wake? What of us.
consumers of the latest fad,
the brands, the trinkets, the tosh,
bloodied by lost fingers of some child slave in Bangladesh,
or the last polluted gasp of a peasant in China or India,
or the soil-stenched sweat of an African miner?
What of us? Do we care? Do we care at all?
Driven by our greed, surrounded by our clutter,
do we count the cost to our fellow men?
Do we rate them above our poodles?

Are we not, all of us, jackals at heart,
some slightly uncomfortable?

Mike Gallagher, writer, poet and editor, was born on Achill Island and worked in London for forty years before retiring to Ireland. His prose and poetry have been published throughout Europe, America, Australia, Nepal, India, Thailand, Japan and Canada. His writing has been translated into Croatian, Japanese, Dutch, German, Italian and Chinese. He won the Michael Hartnett Viva Voce competition in 2010 and 2016, was shortlisted for the Hennessy Award in 2011 and won the Desmond O'Grady International Poetry Contest in 2012. Revival Press published his poetry collection, Stick on Stone, in 2013. Read other articles by Mike.