A Goodbye to Arms by Kwesi Brew

One of the showcases of Kwesi Brew's Return of No Return, a collection published in 1995. Call it a full frontal attack on military rule in Ghana.

A Goodbye to Arms by Kwesi Brew

I dreamt I saw
Weeds sprounting out of the barrels of guns;
Peace has returned to our dear homeland?
But why is the dance silent, and no voices sing?

The sparse glints of rusting guns shimmer
On the billowing temper of discontent and
All is still — a vibrant stillness;
The wind has dropped; the storm is spent;
The war of patience is over
And they are bartering peace for indemnity.
O God! Is this really the end?
With fire spluttering out of their eyes
They will come back before the sun goes down on them
Christ! they will,
But this time round to a stolid dark phalanx,
Those left over from the carnage of flesh and spirit
In these pastures of heaven.

Where the green khaki struts and grinds
its marijuana terror into unarmed hearts,
They come as men-at-arms
Badged as justice, grim of face.
And then at last, dissembling cloak removed.
A pack of common traders stained in violence
Wresting bread out the mouths of babies
only to give it back to them at a price
so kind are they who betray us.
Mothers, fathers, children, brothers and sisters
Their own shame-stained blood

Awake merciful sleep
And lead us out of this happy dream of ceaseless banquets
The blood-shot sun is abroad burning
Into our rib bones, those rattan cages
Woven by relentless claws of hunger
This corrugation of bones will tell you, dear stranger.
That we feed only on hopes of better days
To come, and better days we shall have.
Come rain come shine, come death.

Where is our liberty, you thieves of time?
Where is your vision of prosperity, disciples of greed?
Where is your safety of life, agents of death?
Trusting in these tempers of discontent,
We shall be free again
Free from fear, the fear of fear, the worst
And forever!
A nation's life is a span of just one single bold day!

by Kwesi Brew from Return of No Return (1995)

See also Poetry as Cultural Memory