Hunting for Crocodiles

intro updated at TheRecluse’s suggestion to clarify the event in the poem

Hunting for Crocodiles

(Remembering Rwanda 1994)


Sun not yet awake we left for the lake,

Loose bows strapped secure on our backs;

“No guns when we hunt.” My uncle’s gait

Gentle, leaving little trace leading.

“We bait. Our cunning pitched, we wait.”


Air dry, unmoving we pass

Eucalyptus groves, pygmy lilies

Fragrant binding to our sweat,

Bones easy, strides long unrolling,


“Here we are.” Dragon flies mirror-winged

Hang balanced, fluttering shadows rilled

Into the lake, waters stilled, lazy;

“The way to tell where they lie,

look out for the burst of bubbles.”


Baits slide out spreading red, entrails sinking.

Slowly a silhouette strengthens,

Springs sinuous, stretching, speeding

The arrow strikes piercing lung and sinew.

We race in, a precise slice, sever the spine –


His life subsides, breath hollows harsh:

The end.

That was then.


Waters still stretch untroubling the upstanding eye.

Beneath among the discarded bait entangled lie

The unheard screams of half a million and more.

We cast, hunting for human corpses from this shore.

© Bhi 2023
UKA Editor's Pick!
Views: 1203
critique and comments welcome.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This is an interesting poem for me 1994 was the year my father died, but it was also the year I first went to Australia for my employer (been many times since). I met a lot of interesting people there including a guy who lost a close friend to a salty while fishing in Q.

I have just read your reply to Trevor. Terrible thing. One of my Belgian colleagues who regularly went to Rwanda for our boss lost several good friends during that period.

A troubling, yet excellent poem.


Gustave the infamous man-eater was said to have gotten his taste for humans during this genocide. 300+ victims and was never caught or killed. “Never again,” they keep saying. A fine poem.


I wrote a long thought out comment here only for it to disappear. I am fed up. Too tired to repeat. Excellent poem with a kick in the guts in the last four lines. We really need to get on top of the comments disappearing like this.:-(
Alison x


So many atrocities, repeated over and over again. I think the direct and objective way you begin this compared to the stark horror of your last four lines is very effective.

Flag Content