Poem a Day for April – Day 11 – Mugabe and his Words

I’ve committed to writing a poem a day for the month of April as part of National Poetry Writing Month.  This is day 11.

The thing about writing and posting a new poem every day is that you don’t get time to review it, edit it, sit on it for a while, think about it. Which is to say, they are pretty raw.

Especially this one. Vitriol with a capital ‘V’.  Inspired by news that Robert Mugabe is on his death bed.

I lived in Zimbabwe from ’81 to ’85, when Mugabe first came to power. Hard to believe, but he was quite reconciliatory, relatively reasonable in those day.  Like Mandela, he was a political prisoner for many years.Whilst in prison, he studied by distance education. He ended up with SIX degrees.  A highly intelligent man.


Final Words

Words flew in your cell window

as you served your time

a fighter for freedom

an enemy of oppression

such fine words flew in your cell window


you devoured those fine words

studied them hard

loved them all:

liberty, democracy, reconciliation

humanity, equality, justice

fine words flew in your cell window


but when you ascended to power

words flew out of your palace window

the first to go was justice

such a difficult word

it kept getting in your way

swiftly followed by democracy

too many people wanted to share it

those fine words, they took flight


next to go was reconciliation

you never really came to terms with it, did you?

liberty didn’t last long

it was too free with itself

you couldn’t put up with tolerance

so you tossed that out

eventually sanity deserted you

you were driving it mad

those fine words

they couldn’t stand the stench


You will die soon

and as  you die

final words will come back to taunt you

to circle your fading body

they will screech and caterwaul

hiss and spit at you

drop onto your chest

and in your shrivelled face they will shriek:

Robert Mugabe: monster, hypocrite, fool, traitor to his own people

a man whose words meant nothing


copyright Mike Hopkins 2012

14 thoughts on “Poem a Day for April – Day 11 – Mugabe and his Words

  1. Michael

    Words fail me.

    You deserve a D in your name like Michael D Higgins. You are a Socialist Poet.

    Some may be monsters, we all may be fools and hypocrites and will be forgiven, but a traitor to his own people will not be forgiven nor forgotten.

  2. Hi Mike…first time I visited your poetry through your comments on Jen’s site. I enjoyed this piece…I can see the souls circling him as he lies on his death bed, those people he did such wrong by, but those that expected so much good of him.

    • Nice to have you visiting Beckie. Yes, high expectations, and tragic disappointment. I confess I was one who held out hope for him in his early days. If you want to be notified of new poems, just click on the “Follow Blog via Email” link.

  3. Pingback: The day I cheered Robert Mugabe | mistakenforarealpoet

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