Owen Sheers
Drinking with Hitler
Harare, Zimbabwe, July 2000
(This poem concerns the late Dr Hitler Hunzvi PF MP and leader of the Zimbabwe 'War Veterans'.)

He wears his power like an aftershave,
so thick the women about him flounder in it,
their unsure eyes switching in their heads
as they try out their smiles, brief as fireworks in the night.

Turning to me his own slides into place - a CD selected
with play pressed across his lips.
But I've heard about the burned workers' homes,
the scorched huts like cauterised wounds.

the men who cradle the fruit of their bruises,
the 5th brigade trucks that come in the night
and finding no-one in particular,
beat the first two hundred instead.

So finished with me, he turns away
to the Zambian businesswoman at his side -
film pretty, delicate among her jewellery,
long-fingered, dark and quiet.

Conducting asked for laughter from the bar,
he leans in close, then leaves as quick as he came
in a flourish of cards,
following his driver out of the door and into his world.
She returns to her drink, lightly touching her leg
where he lay his hand on her thigh,
before looking up into the bar's mirror and wishing him away
with one slow-blink of her blue-painted eyes.