The Mob

These are the faceless horrors
that people my nightmares
from whom I turn to wakefulness
for comforting

yet here I find confronting me
the fear-blanked facelessness
and saurian-lidded stares
of my irrational terrors
from whom in dreams I run.

O my people

O my people
what have you done
and where shall I find comforting
to smooth awake the mask of fear
restore your face, your faith, feeling, tears.

— Dennis Brutus

South African poet and journalist Dennis Brutus was banned from all social activity for protesting the apartheid government. He was arrested in 1963 for breaking that ban, which prohibited him from meeting with more than two people at once. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail, but he escaped while out on bail. He was re-arrested and shot in the back during a subsequent escape attempt. He was then sentenced to 16 months of hard labor on Robben Island. Brutus wrote this poem about a white crowd that attacked black protestors at the Johannesburg City Hall after the passage of the General Law Amendment Act (Sabotage Bill) in May 1962.

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