On the Shell Oil Settlement with the Family of Ken Saro-Wiwa

As Shell Oil pays out $15.5 million to the family of Ken Saro-Wiwa, I want to share a poem:


The day they hanged Ken Saro-Wiwa
the chores called to me anyway,
knife-sharp hoe and batteried radio
to the field beyond the back yard.

Chop. The handle’s arc blinks out the sun
for the instant of their crossed paths.
The European Union and the International Finance
Corporation have condemned Nigeria’s execution…

Chop. Thistles grown tough through a long summer
bend, and on the third strike, shred. Saro-Wiwa,
President of the Organization for the Survival
of the Ogoni People, and eight other activists…

Chop. Blisters come up. Blisters break. Sweat
in the eyes, sting in the palms, ache in the back.
…arrested after protests against Shell Oil’s destruction
of traditional lands in Nigeria’s oil-rich southeast…

Chop. A thud sickeningly wrong, and vision clears.
“No!” I am screaming at the back door of my neighbor,
his bad luck to be lingering over coffee, a veterinarian.

“Make it stop—“ I shoved the blood-dripped mess
toward his chest, the rabbit’s foreleg hanging
by a shred of furred skin, an intact tendon
two fine, dis-jointed bones.

Even here the radio’s blare echoes off the brick
of the patio’s far wall. …estimate that in 45 years
the world’s remaining oil reserves will have been exhausted…

“Make it stop.” He closed his right hand
on the gaping wound, his left hand on my arm
“It will be all right,” he said.
“All bleeding stops


Jake said
May 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Thank you.

Name Remember

About Katherine Power

I didn’t set out to be a terrorist. As a student activist, I moved from protesting the war in Viet Nam to waging guerrilla war to overthrow the government….

Recent and Upcoming Appearances & Publications
3/12/19 Peace, Justice and Transformation, Parallel Conference to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, 777 United Nations Plaza, NYC
11/13/18 A Journey from Guerrilla to Grandmother, Lifelong Learners: An Independent Collaborative, Temple Shir Tikva, 141 Boston Post Road, Wayland, MA 01778
10/10/18 Provincetown Women’s Week Reading from Doing Time:Papers from Framingham Prison, AMP, 432 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA
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1/15/2014 Complexity and Social Change, Occupy Radio
10/31/2013 Surrender, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
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