Dust Storm at Marikana


Despairing women, hurting in the dust, 

Raise voices on the over heated air

their crying songs billowing the void 

erupting in a cold dry morning storm.


Desperate men scraped a living from the dust

Resolute in their right to dignity

Claim a place, to stand, to arm, to fight.

–––– "Justice shall be mined"

they shout, and rush into a rout.

A hail of missiles, hell of blood, inequity.

–––– Justice is doubly armed, and blind.


Dying men scratching at the dust

revenge, reprieve, remorse, release;

Hands, fingers, nails, scraping an escape

Rest in a final fist of native rust.


Dead faces frozen in the dust

Denounce the sworn assurance

The suited promise of finely crafted rights

An end of all the darkness, and of night.


False men gather, touristing the dust

Their hurricane of words a deluge of deception

opinions blizzard across the landscape littered

with freedom’s hope, wasted in the dust. 


A swirling fog mixing in the dust

blinding the truth, guttering the light

Where poor men died, mothers cried

And great laws lied. 


A nation lost in a howling silence

And the keening lament of women

Asking Why?


About this: In August, 2012, South African police fired on striking miners at Marikana, killing  34, and injuring 78.  The police arrested another 270 miners, and charged them with the murder of their 34 dead colleagues. It was the worst mass killing by the state since the end of apartheid and the advent of constitutional democracy. 

 © Philip Knight 2018