Bryan Murphy


Ruling Out The Equaliser

Tinpot dictator? Capable enough to snuff out
the Thatcher brat’s attempted coup,
to woo a Swiss dictator who understands
the need for PR stunts
like this award of half a Cup of Nations
to a microstate where oil flows like blood.

Face is all, money the make-up to salvage it.
From his second-best purse, the dictator’s son
empties a year’s earnings of half the population
at the feet of the “National Lightning”,
151st best team in our world.

Opponents, like officials, calculate their due,
and duly act as though they’ve got it.

Lightning strikes Libya and Senegal
from the path to glory,
before orange-shirted “Elephants”
trample the usurpers,
restore a semblance of merit
to the spectacle,
which no-one watches live.

The circus moves on. South Africa next.
The world’s attention floodlights fail.
A shroud once more encases
Equatorial Guinea’s heart of darkness.

What happens now? History regurgitates.
Oil powers the wheels of bulldozers,
clearing shanties for developers,
not for the souls who live there.
Migrants get harassed by bribe-sucking cops
with inflated stop-and-search concessions.
Students are acquainted with jails,
the continent’s worst, lest they protest
when summit-bound dignitaries
come from afar, some months hence.
A news blackout leaves the rest
to our imagination.

The sport itself still searches
among warehouses full of its gold
for the beauty it has sloughed:
cynical, corrupt, creeping
every day closer to the apex of its hubris,
every moment more akin to Equatorial Guinea.

Bryan Murphy is a newly retired translator who now concentrates on writing his own words. His work has recently appeared in The Camel Saloon, Indigo Rising, Dead Snakes, The Eunoia Review, The Rainbow Rose and The Pygmy Giant. He used to believe that soccer could be a vehicle for human rights by fostering inter-cultural contact and respect, and, through its simplicity and ubiquity, creating a level playing field - the equaliser.

(author retains copyright)