Geer Austin


Sri Lanka

A cobra charmer
serenades a defanged snake.
Sinhalese women dance western dances
in Colombo nightclubs.
Burghers dash off to the Mideast
to earn petrodollars.
A Belgian boy woos a Thai girl
on the Mount Lavinia beach.
Tamils pick tea in hill country.
Everybody eats string hoppers, coconut sambol,
fish curry for breakfast.

When the rioting starts,
police and firemen join in.
Bus drivers mow down
boys and girls
and the machetes come out.

Back in Washington
grown men fool around with enormous bombs.
Little wars like Sri Lanka's
don't often make the evening news.
Boring shit really—
limbless bodies and grieving mothers,
says the news editor.
Later she feels some of the same
emotions as everyone else.
Small insecurities about the way
she looks in new clothes,
or how her breath smells
after too much of this or that.

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