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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Self-Portrait as Staff Meeting of the Touareg Uprising

Nakid mahedjak ya assouf erhlalan

Working within procedure, attendance at arms dump ambush
open day up on last year, a higher than usual proportion of applicants
expressing an interest in kill the rabid dogs, kill them all,
a child watching his own father hanged from the barracks yardarm
while the goat too weak to suckle cries outside my tent, did you find this
meeting very productive/productive/not productive/don’t know?

Mounting fears of destabilisation of Malian regime, beacon of democracy
in region, regulations governing second-marking and collection
of essays by students subject to quality assurance benchmarking
and review; increased porousness of desert borderlands, insurgents
snatching essays from staff pigeonholes by night. O my brothers,
you who have suffered the camps and uranium mines, when will we return

to the seminar rooms of old, scene of staff meetings our forefathers sang?
Bass player absent from this track for reasons of study leave,
exams officer for reasons of extrajudicial internment, any other business
introduced to sound of hand-claps and ululating, gesturing women,
my innumerable harem. Come the Spring, Victorian modules
follow their treacherous migration route south, invigilators

and external examiners trailing behind them, Rossetti and Browning
bedding down by the oases of Niger and Burkina Faso. Learning outcome:
this is my featureless ocean of sand like no other, dispossess me at your peril;
aims and objectives, increased public service television programming
in Tamashek, a naive backpacker from Derbyshire kidnapped
and beheaded. Joining the faculty this semester is one of the leading

goats of his generation. In an increasingly competitive sector,
what are sand dunes for? I have climbed up and down the mountains
and know the caves where the questionnaires are hidden, the Research
Excellence Framework impact statements we have worked on so long.
Further to chair’s business, violent separatist demands submitted
single-spaced in future will be returned unmarked. Parched void

my homeland, minutes of the last meeting its only laments. The monitor lizard
is cunning, but no less so the teaching assistant. As the vice-chancellor
himself prophesied over mint tea: inappropriate in the workplace,
the billowing blue-robed elder will one day return through the door
of the essay revision seminar and declare, ‘I alone am Sultan of these
my Touareg homelands, and hereby raise this fact as a point of order.’