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First Day Back.

FIRST DAY BACK

 Despite their stifled yawns
 he tries to tell them about Marx
 and to sum up his thesis in a sentence.
 Our reality, consciousness, identity,
 our political, cultural and economic systems
 are determined by the ways in which we
 technologically transmute the physical world.
 What do you think then? he asks. Is it true?
 You've got ten seconds to answer.

 They look alarmed so he holds
 his hands out, fingers cupping,
 encouraging. Joke, he says. Joke.
 You'd prefer a story, wouldn't you, he asks,
 and their grins explode. Yes, they shout,
 like sitting round a fire telling tales.
 (He could see firelight flickering on their faces).

 They're smiling now; tall, smooth-skinned
 Somalians, gaunt Ruandans, gentle,
 full-faced Ghanaians, gold-bangled
 Nigerians making their Victorian values heard
 (not for them the two-inch band of flesh
 at their waist, tops of knickers showing)
 and the two Dagenham lads, sitting apart,
 asking if this geezer was a brother of Groucho.

 He sighs. Smiles back at them.
 Asks them how their Summer has been.


Ken Champion was born in London's East End and now lives in Essex. He lectures in sociology and has published widely in the UK. He is the author of African Time & Other Poems (tall-lighthouse P, 2002).
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Article Details
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Author:Champion, Ken
Publication:African American Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Words:206
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