I met a man of darker hue, upon the rolling plains,
And this is what he said, before he blew away his brains.
"You see, upon that ridge-top there, I stood, while still a boy,
And saw my people camped below, and laughed out loud with joy.
"For I had trekked across the plains, a little runaway,
Who'd fled the farm where he had slaved and lived to see that day.
I then ran down to the tents below, and what did I then find?
The ones I loved had passed away -- but not from my young mind!
"For twenty years I wandered more, with those of the tribe still left,
Forever seeking for my kin, of family bereft.
And though the tribe did take me in, befriending one quite lost,
I never, ever smiled again, remembering slaughter's cost.
"And one by one (and often more) the others in that tribe,
Who still survived, fell down and died, from bullet or from bribe.
To alcohol they turned, as those, who settled on this land,
Dispensed of them, with guns and booze -- as now I understand.
"And so, in time, I too took up the gun and drank from the bottle,
And murdered both the dark and pale, in the blinding heat of battle.
Pursued by gunmen, I rode west, and found myself a job,
A farmhand, doing the work of a grunt, and shucking corn from cob.
"But every night, I dreamed of those, my parents, siblings, slain,
And those I'd killed myself and saw, still writhing in their pain.
And grief and anger welled in me, and I would toss and turn,
And in my private hell at night, in fire unending, burn.
"Six years I worked -- but then, one day, being kicked while still asleep,
I slew the one who'd woken me, from dreams both dark and deep.
And so the spiral that commenced, with murders of my kin,
Took one more turn, and added yet more death to the arc of sin.
I spent twelve years in jail, and then I managed to escape,
A runaway for one last time -- and not in youthful shape!
And here I've come, to the selfsame spot, where I had met, before,
The ones who then were still alive, but now are here no more.
"And I am glad that you were here, a stranger, yet a friend,
So I could tell you this, my tale, before it comes to end."
He grasped my arm, and then he turned and walked to that long crest,
And standing there, he shot himself -- and crumpled down to rest.
Babui / Arjun Janah 2009 August 25th, Tue. Brooklyn, New York