Refugees flee their homes. Exiles
move back in, thirty-year echoes
of mortar shells rattling windows.

         Down the river bloated bodies bob.
         Little brother, which body is yours?

Relief planes bomb refugees
with food and a few more perish
under the crashing crates of manna.

         Blowflies buzz, such bliss!
         Dogs grow fatter than ever.

Experts jet in—medical, forensic.
They distribute white suits,
surgical masks and white gloves.

         Refugees are being immunized.
         The water they drink is purified.

Bright yellow bulldozers belch
black clouds of diesel smoke,
digging the bottomless trench.

         All down the river sun-bleached limbs dance.
         Little brother, which leg is yours?

Exiles smile to be home, harvest
beans that the refugees planted.
These new citizens'patrol old borders.

         Vultures cluck, such joy!
         Hyenas giggle, fatter than ever.

The dead are aligned, so many
fence posts, each wrapped and tied
in mats living women weave: dead banana leaves.

         A million eat charity, injected
         with health. The river water is purified.

Pairs of white-suited workers pitch
bodies into the trench, a layer of wrapped bodies,
a layer of lime.

         All down the river torsos swell.
         Little brother, which belly is yours?

Perched at trench edge, separate
abacus beads strung on kilometers of wire,
expeas count one million.

         Maggots bloom out of bellies.
         Crows whet beaks on bones, such glee!

Relief workers distribute plastic tents.
Defeated soldiers dance
round fires of food crates.

         An army is being immunized.
         The river it drinks has been purified.

Generals speak. Refugees listen,
held hostage at gunpoint,
planning the counterattack.

         Exiles are being immunized.
         The water they drink is purified.

One million flee for their lives
again. Their army on the run,
refugees would rather die at home.

         Blowflies have never known such love.
         Vultures are fatter than ever.

Grass grows over the airstrip. Grass grows
over the grave. And here come herdsmen
driving cows to pasture, never so green.

         All down the river severed heads sing.
         Little brother, which song is yours?