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SIERRA LEONE

My father told me stories of war,
How the Mende fought the Temme,
Or how two tribes would fight
when Somebody had stolen a woman.
But the story I come to tell is much darker
Than what my father told in moony nights,
Beside the silvery river Sediment in Koryadu.

The last night I saw his face he said,
"My son, you're as smart as the White Men
That take our diamonds.
I see the way you read their book closely.
When you become a doctor,
Do not forget to make this place a paradise.

You are a good man,
A good man of Kono,
A good man of Sierra Leone.
You may learn their language and arts,
But do not pick up the pulse of their hearts,
The fire in their eyes,
When they make us kill each other for our own stones.
Do not sell gold and diamond rings
that took fingers and necks to get into the market..."

He had not finished when a bullet
bore a hole deep into his forehead,
Accompanied by the cries of
the village women and children,
Running helter skelter into golden bullets
falling like rain drops into the night.

The rest of us that survived were captured
And conscripted into the R.U.F,
A rebel Army, fighting against
the corrupt government and the White smugglers,
Funded by the President in order
to disrupt elections and stay in power.
I was only fourteen with the rest of the boys
Aged eleven to eighteen.
With our families gone,
there was nothing to live for we fought,
Intoxicated by another man's anger and greed.

Six months later,
we'd all killed a handful of locals,
Seized villages
and conscripted children survivors,
As well as raped young girls and women,
While the grown men
were forced to mine diamonds
In territories seized by the R. U. F.
Which were later moved to Liberia
as contraband sold in the black market.

You can call me what you want,
But I'm only a devil because I've lived in Hell.
I've done terrible things I was forced to do,
And every night when I sleep I see
The babies with swollen stomachs and flies in their eyes,
The children with transparent skin with bones arced around their sides,
Like withered tree branches in dry seasons.

This is Africa,
where when a natural resources is found
The locals lose their lives.
Like the Oil in Libya and Nigeria,
Where the earth is red, stained by the blood of its citizens.

If Mother is still alive,
Then she waits by the fire making roasted plantain
And red palm oil stew
With my sisters and Yanda and the little baby,
Talking to the stars, hoping I'll return
To live the dream, she and father started
In the happy bamboo house surrounded by coconut trees.

If only they knew Paradise cannot be built
on the buried bones of innocent women, men and children.

Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
This poem tells a story of a boy, a child soldier and the effect of the wars and conflicts between the rebel soldiers and the government and the White smugglers of diamonds in Sierra Leone in the 1980s. A vivid insight on the renowned Blood Diamond.
Editing stage: 

Comments

Sierra Leone, in the news for a few minutes here and there with pictures of massacres and hungry kids in the 80's...seemed like forever, like the war in Sarajevo, sri Lanka, Congo...Look into the works of Ocean Vuong about Vietnam, where forces dropped more bombs there than the entire amount in WWII and the effects of madness from war.

Your work is powerful but I would consider to make it tighter...try this as the opening

If only they knew Paradise cannot be built
on the buried bones of innocent women, men and children.

Then start the poem, and stick with Sierra Leone and use that as the universal scope of what's fucked up in Africa. I would work a bit harder in the historical facts, and even try to find metaphors to express them rather than facts or a priori assumptions.
the stance is powerful. keep that strong!

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

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