THE 20th CENTURY DIES WITH NELSON MANDELA

Here’s Robben Island, where he waited
for the stink to grow so horrid
they would line up for new ways.

There’s Johannesburg,
a city that fouled the letters in its name.
But not any more.

Here the hospital he lies in,
while Death takes off his hat and,
out of respect, grants him a short parole.

There the players he co-opted,
Saying “You work for us now;
Your uniforms will be white and black.”

The 20th Century dies when he dies,
Its greatness and its horrors shoveled in together.

MARK FOGARTY