Sunday, December 21, 2008

In Praise of Footwear



Today, Muntazer Al-Zaidi
Put the finishing touches
To the President’s monument,
A memorial to his shame,
For one who yearned for glory
No matter what the cost,
For one who lived
With one foot in his mouth,
Whose mis-speaking spread fear
North, west, east and south,
Whose eyes could never keep still
In their search for someone else to blame,
A man ignorant of the graves he left
Wherever he stamped his name,
Oblivious to the wards of limbless
And the broken families left behind.
So what should we do to remember
This proud leader of men who chose to be blind?

Quite soon he’ll come a calling
On a lucrative lecture tour.
Don’t fret with placards, slogans or boos.
If you want to rain on his parade
Don’t dignify him with a bullet or grenade,
Just shower the ex-president with shoes.

Full of flu. This poem has been boiling up since I saw Muntazer on the news.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Wind from the South




You can’t contain the wind from the south.
No walls, no threats can keep it out,
That searing grit in your eyes,
That choking dust in your mouth.

You set the world alight from west to east.
Too late now to curse the ash,
Too late now to stop the sands’
Last grains fall from the glass,
Too late now to stop your door,
Too late now to hide the stains on every floor,
Too late now to share the feast.

And when you falter cursing lack of sight,
And when you fall, as surely you must,
When nothing’s left of you but dust,
The wind from the south will hold you still
And hurl you through the endless night.

Although this is a simple poem, I have lost count of the number of levels on which it works for me. The title and the idea were suggested to me by the track 'An Gaoth Aneas' - 'The Wind from the South' on the Chieftains CD 'Water from the Well'. This is not the first time I have been moved to write when listening to their music.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Education



This is the word.

Once the language of victims,
But in this sorry world, we must confess,
Now it often flows from the mouths
Of those who’ve swiftly learned to oppress.

This is a well.

Once it was a living thing,
Once watered our crops, our land.
Now it stands useless, slowly
Filling with memories and sand.

This is a seed.

This tiny green promise.
Where the wind will carry it, none can know.
I read in a black book a long time ago,
What you reap is what you sow.

This is a stone.

With one such as this,
Against the order of the world, defiant,
A single shepherd boy
Brought down to earth an armoured giant.

This is a poem.

Sometimes its words are lost,
Drowned by the voices of false gods.
Just once in a while it is an incitement
To live and fight against all odds.

Thanks for all your kind messages of support. Fighting fit again.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Salvator Mundi



Eyes squeezed tight,
muscles frozen stiff,
as the big C.A.T. scanned my body. Thoughtfully

I did the tourist bit,
wedged onto a No. 3 bus,
as far as the Coliseum,

watched an oriental wedding party,
a sorry Fiat wrapped around a plane tree,
joined the queue behind churlish Swedish stags,

released, breathless up to the Palatine Hill,
restless seated on a marble column,
felled too many years ago to contemplate,

strolled through the Forum where
nothing funny happened,
paused where Caesar came down to earth,

watched one coin arc
over wishful heads,
splash into the waters of the Trevi,

jostled with students
demonstrating on the Spanish Steps
but didn't get the point at first,

opened my eyes again,
white walls, white sheets,
Madonna and Child watching TV

a Nero in the White House,
Hope allowed out,
for one day.

How many more days out
are we allowed
before the shutters come down again?

Turned around, turned out the light,
kept all my dreams
safely out of sight!

This one is coming from Rome where I have just spent another 3 days in hospital, but as you can see I am happily recovered and waiting for the insurance to take me home. We were having a good holiday before a small clot interupted. Lucky to have Susan and Derek with us to keep us strong. So when they ask me where I was when Obama was elected.....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Anti Capitalista



Give yourself a good talking to....

Pull yourself together.
It can’t get any worse.
Your money’s gone to Iceland.
There’s nothing in your purse.

A mortgage made in heaven,
Ten times your earning power.
They must have seen you coming.
Too late to curse and glower.

Can’t say I didn’t warn you
You were heading for a fall.
Now it’s now use hiding
When the bailiff comes to call.

You saw the storm clouds forming,
But you hung the washing out,
So don’t complain, as you watch the rain
And your life goes down the spout.

See that fat cat grinning,
As he heads off for the sun
Who pays for his life of luxury?
You guessed it. You’re the one.

In a system based on profit/greed
Instead of meeting simple needs,
It’s folk at the bottom who bear all the pains,
Whilst the scum at the top escape with their gains.

By popular request and especially after I read about Sir Fred Goodwin, now ex Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, who earned only £4.1 million last year, including a £2.86 million 'bonus'. He generously waived his 'right' to a £1.2 million severance payment, but for some reason he keeps his annual pension of £579,000. I can't detail all the others in the same position, because it just makes me sick!

Monday, October 13, 2008

TABLOID WAR ON TERROR!




First, they went for the asylum seekers.
Banner headlines trumpeted as one,
It was only reasonable and fair
That they should take their pitiful problems ELSEWHERE!

Then, they went for all the foreigners,
Or anyone with a suspicion of dark skin.
There was very little fuss, after all,
“They all look just like Palestinians to us.”

Then they went for the Welsh,
With that weird language
And once the miners had all gone,
A miserable race, of little use,
Save for the odd sentimental song.

Next in the firing line,
People with alien, or
Obviously made up names.
Kelly, Balls, Blunkett, Jack Straw,
Milliband, Mandelson and myriads more.

When the government finally shut down the presses,
Ex journos began to look at the world around,
Desperate for help, but totally bereft
To find, that of their former readership
There wasn’t one reader left.

OK time for some frivolity. This is my entry for the Palestine Think Tank's [ see link ] poetry competition.PS just changed the image. I have a better use for the other one and this one makes the point better.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bailey's Bridge



I found him sitting on his bench.
Overhead, a kestrel hung in the air,
Watching the limestone’s slants
Into the slate black water.
Wings flickered
In the corners of his eyes.
Likewise the giddy choughs
Playing tag across the skies.
Yet his head was like a rock
And I wondered why
He did not turn like me
To follow every pirouette and dive.

Those unseeing eyes were hidden
Behind a hedge of bayonets.
He smelled not brine, but sour sweat.
Instead of screeching gulls
The air was full of curses,
Wrapped in sheets of steaming rain
And bound in an eternity of pain.

Here was his own space
Where his comrade, the sea, spoke not.
A friend deaf to order,
A last companion,
Lost for words.

This poem was born of a walk from Langland Bay with Paul Morgan, Alan Figg and Lou Bowyer. Not being fully recovered, I did not venture down into Caswell, thinking I could not cope with the climb back and so I made my way back slowly whilst the Musketeers completed the walk. It was then that I found a bench overlooking the sea with the above inscription.….

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Glencoe




The treacherous snow swept
into the Glen of Poets,
came in trust to rest
upon their unsuspecting thatch.

Can snow cut?
When snow dons the King’s red coat,
it can.
When Campbells emerge
out of a merciless dawn,
it can.
Your eyes cling to the unkind cliffs
and you know..
it can.

Air should be crisp, but
this air hangs like a dead hand.
All doors are tightly shut,
which once were open to all.
Windows stare back sightless.
Lights have been expelled.
The mountainsides, which echoed with voices,
are filled with the moaning of many winds.
Air should heal
but this air scars.

I have not been to Glencoe for a few years, but even just driving through I am always struck by the atmosphere of the place, even on a bright sunny day. In how many places like this, all over the globe, have the 'King's men' left their mark? The painting is by John Blake McDonald c1879, held by the Royal Scottish Academy.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Qasr




I built a home with my own hands,
Fitting each rock with infinite care,
Willing walls to rise out of the earth,
The womb of their own hillside.

And as I worked I felt the free air
Teasing my skin and I measured the worth
Of each day’s work and sensed the bird of pride
Fluttering somewhere deep inside.

I planted my children here.
It’s their voices you can hear,
Wheeling like swallows round the olive trees,
No trace of the fear
To come, no hint of smoke on the evening breeze,
When we scrambled up to the roof,
To stand gawping at the moon as she winked upon the seas.

From where did the swarms of locusts come?
Why do they now feast unchecked upon our shame?
Their concrete nests rise up on hills with new names.
The wadis are reeking, choked with their scum.
Their yellow legs appear at every turn.
Beneath each ugly cloud, our land begins to burn.

You see this picture from afar
And turn to face the other way.
Why let our misery intrude
When you’re so sure
All locusts are secure,
Not heading west, then north
Arriving unannounced
Out of the haze of judgement day?

Abigail and Jason spent last week with me and they brought me a copy of 'Palestinian Walks' by Raja Shehadeh, which I immediately read from cover to cover and which inspired the above poem.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Unfinished Canvas



My studio faces outwards,
From beneath a thinning grey thatch,
Across a growing wasteland -
Here the illusion of verdant hills,
There stunted olives in an angry haze,
Here overgrown, flower-banked lanes,
There overflowing, foetid drains,
Here streets bulging with drunken song,
There streets emptied of a life long gone,
Here a Red Kite pirouettes without knowing why,
There carrion crows gather in trees, high
Above the smoking fields to count the days
Before the rains arrive to wash this misery away.

The tip of my brush hovers
Uncertain above the landscape,
Willing me to caress
A blue day out of nothingness,
But no matter how deft my touch,
Or how selective is my eye,
No matter how much I try,
There is always redness leaching
Through every crack in the sky.

I have been reflecting how throughout my life there has always been war. I could write a never ending list. At the moment we are doing rather well with at least four wars ( probably more ) going on at the same time and the potential for more to break out at any moment, so I'm going to switch the news off for a while, because my head just can't take it. This image first appeared in the Daily Mirror, which just like the rest of the media, just loves a good war!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mahmoud Darwish



I have no words.
There is only an emptiness
which his own words will fill.

"On the verge of death, he says:
I have no trace left to lose:
Free I am so close to my liberty. My future lies in my own hand.
Soon I shall penetrate my life,
I shall be born free and parentless,
And as my name I shall choose azure letters... "

From 'Under Siege'

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Song of Our Times



Here’s to the Prime Minister,
I must bring him in,
His excuses for conflict
Are wearing quite thin.
He claims it’s for Freedom
We must all die in war,
But I just spotted Liberty
Vanish through the back door.

Here’s to the generals,
We must bring them in,
No longer in armchairs,
Consumers of gin,
But in studios with cameras,
All serious and grim
For God, Queen and Country,
They sing the same hymn.

Here’s to the arms dealers,
I must bring them in,
For all human life
They don’t give one pin,
As long as rockets roar
And their profits roll in,
Secure in the knowledge
That they always win.

Here’s to the media,
We must bring them in,
Masters of deception
And wizards of spin,
Since the lost days of youth,
Wizened, long in tooth,
They’ve lied to us so often,
They’ve lost sight of the truth.

Here’s to our good friends
We must all now come in
From wherever we are
We’re all of one kin.
When the others all wheedle
That Truth’s not in fashion,
We’ll answer with one voice
That Truth is our passion.

This is inspired by the first track on Bellowhead’s outstanding CD ‘Burlesque’. We were lucky enough to see them live at Brampton Live last month. WOW!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Qana




For use in MK-84 Guided Bomb BSU-37-B”

Safe in your sister’s arms,
Shielded from the blistering heat,
Safe in your mother’s embrace
At one with the rhythm of her breath,
Safe from the random bullet,
The stray delivery of death,
Safe in a womb of your own,
Out of sight of the pilot above,
Safe here, where miracles are made,
Where water turns to wine, as an act of love,
Safe because of your innocence,
Safe because you are only a child.

This ten second news story,
This modern parable,
What lessons does it hold?
My fingers splintered on rubble.
My blood ran cold,
As the last stone moved,
Revealed the first disfigured limb
And I knew the colours of her dress,
Recognised the pattern, doves on a dusty hem.

This comes from Robert Fisk’s account of the bombing of Qana in southern Lebanon. 56 innocent civilians were killed, victims of Israeli ‘precision’ bombing. 34 were children. The sub-heading refers to the markings found on a fragment of the bomb that slaughtered them. I don’t know whether to thank Robert or to curse him. He reveals so much that others would prefer to remain hidden, but it also means I can’t sleep at night and I haven’t even seen these horrors for myself. I don’t know how he can return, time and time again, often risking his own life, to the scene of one massacre after another. I don’t understand how he himself can sleep, having seen what he has seen. Qana is reputed to be the biblical Cana. Welcome to Bangladesh! I have replaced the image I originally chose with the Ben Heine cartoon that was added on Palestine Think Tank thanks to Mary Rizzo.
A BIG WELCOME TO MY BROTHERS IN PALESTINE.

Friday, May 09, 2008

60



Today the bulldozer crawled
Into my village.
I watched the trees’ resistance,
Heard them groan and shake,
Hoping beyond hope
They could not break and after the trees bowed,
the stones ground their teeth in impotent fury,
Before they too tangled with the bones
Of lost tomorrows, in unmarked graves,
Corrupt foundations
For a shimmering, empty city,
Destruction in the myth of creation
By architects stripped of any pity.
What still remains that we may save
From the ruins left by an alien nation?

The bulldozers did come. A local farmer just sent them in to clear the cutting in front of our house. We were outraged, but then I began to put things ina different perspective....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Assassination of Fadel Shana



Painted on its side was a Star of David,
Which made it God’s chosen tank,
Impervious to criticism, omnipotent,
Invincible in the face of stone throwing kids.

The turret rotated and the muzzle,
Like a baleful Cyclops eyed its prey,
A four by four parked
A few hundred yards away,

An obvious target,
Marked with letters three feet high –
‘TV/PRESS’ – an obvious invitation to open fire –
After all, it’s open season on those who ask why?

And so the long barrel coughed once,
The rabbinical shell spun on its way,
Determined to have the final say,
Ripped the back of the car right off,

Splintered into flechettes,
Inch long darts, which sliced
Through his flak jacket, as if through chaff,
Cut his puny spine in half.

Two seconds after a puff of dust
Marked the moment of the shot,
His images gave way to static
At the moment his great heart burst.

An Israeli military official said, "We wish to express sorrow for the death of the Palestinian cameraman ... It should be emphasized that the area in which the cameraman was injured is an area in which ongoing fighting against armed, extreme and dangerous terrorist organizations occurs on a daily basis. "The presence of media, photographers and other uninvolved individuals in areas of warfare is extremely dangerous and poses a threat to their lives."

After 2 weeks in hospital, weeks without news, I see that nothing has changed and so I return to the fray.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Falling Down




Dr, Mugabe knew one secret.
He found it in a learned book,
So when he saw the great White Tree he shook
And shook until the leaves fell into the dust
And the roots were ripped from the earth
And the Tree crashed to the ground
As all rotten trees must.

Dr. Mugabe strode out of the forest of dead trees,
With an AK47 in one hand.
On his back, he carried a bag of promises,
gifts to be spread throughout the land.
The greatest promise he kept inside,
A song of freedom that could never be denied.

Dr. Mugabe put his feet under our table.
He took the food from our plate.
When the water from our wells ran dry, we realised too late
That of the song of freedom there was no sound
And the bag of promises was nowhere to be found.

Dr. Mugabe grew old.
His women all grew fat.
His brothers all wore sharp White suits
And smiles like the proverbial cat
Who crept into our house and stole the cream
And the song of freedom became a distant dream.

Before it came to this,
If only he’d had the time to sit
With the old men in the shade,
Watching the ants, such industrious insects,
Build great cities out of mud and shit
And he would have known, like them,
That warriors rarely make the best architects
And the elders would have told him, without hesitation,
That if you yearn to build a nation,
There’s one big snag….
You can’t imprison freedom in your own bag.

My old Townhill sparring partner, Frank Grist, would have a wry smile on his face if he could read this poem. When I last saw him, just before he died, he took great pleasure in reminding me that I was 'Mugabe's Man', as I had supported the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe. I don't regret my stand and I never have had any illusions in the 'heroes of the revolution'.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ama Sumani



Time for confessions ….
Were you the one
Who formed the weasel words?
Were you amongst the sheep
Who voted for this ‘law’?
Is this what you voted for?
Were you the one
Who signed her death warrant?
Were you one of the immigration cops
Who dragged her onto the flight,
Muttering, “ I was only
Carrying out orders. Somebody else
Would have done it if I had not.”

This how a Holocaust begins,
You watch, disconnected
As they take one defenceless black woman
From a cancer ward,
Give no thought to her fate,
For though she has countless friends,
The money needed will come together too late,
She’ll be too exhausted to fight on,
Knowing that for justice she’d have to wait
Until the oceans froze and the skies wept blood,
Long after she’d been murdered by the state.
Who’s will be the next name to be chalked up on your gory slate?

What has Latuff's cartoon got to do with the poem that follows? I am making a point here. This is the same fight and we are dealing with the same enemy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

2008 Grav Slam



There I was, like the last miners’ picket,
Stranded outside the ground without a ticket,
When a voice whispered, “Follow me Butt.
I know an entrance that’s never shut
.”
And so I can tell you, I was there
Where the flags flew the thickest in the cold evening air,
To see Grav lead his girls out by the hand,
Hear his voice boom “Mae Hen” louder than the band.

High ball, crash ball, ruck and maul,
The soundest brick in a great Red Wall,
The big man stormed everywhere,
Laying waste to blue shirts without a care
Until the final whistle blew
And the roar of 80,000 grew
And the foundations of Cardiff shook
And pubs overflowed wherever you looked.

Faced with a post match interview, Grav gravely shook his head
And with a grin that split his face from side to side just said,
That was the most gruelling game I’ve ever had.
Just goes to show, this artificial leg’s not bad
!”

No one who isn't Welsh will understand this poem or even care what a 'Grand Slam' is. With so much misery abounding it's time for some unbridled joy and another celebration of a great man and a Welsh legend.

Friday, March 14, 2008

March 17





The memory of your blistered skin
Makes my flesh crawl even now,
Forty years older and no wiser,
Conscience fragile, still paper thin.
Your face spools round and round
The screen, flickering in flame.
The camera pans onwards,
Here the scorched landscape,
Olive groves ablaze,
There the cratered city,
Green flags defiant through the haze.
Da Nang, Beit Hanun
Our nightmares blur as one,
But always the same face,
The same ravaged eyes
Come running straight at me.

It's almost the 40th anniversary of the anti-Vietnam War demonstration which was charged by mounted police in Grosvenor Square on March 17 1968, my political baptism of fire. I wish I could say that things had changed for the better. I am pleased to say that the celebrated cartoonist, Latuff has agreed for me to use his cartoons on this blog. See above for the first one....

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I am not afraid



I have heard the roar of fighters
Blot out the skies.
I have felt the hot wind
Ripping at my eyes.
I have seen the world
Disintegrate in lies.
I can smell your fear.
It comes as no surprise
To one as young as I.

Tell me you understand.
Reach out and touch me
Restless where I lie
Look me straight in the eye.
Explain why your face
Grows paler than this cold, cold clay.

There’s no need to hesitate.
The dry taste in your mouth,
As you struggle to find the right way
With words, will pass. It’s never too late
To admit you find yourself
In the wrong time, in the right place.
With no way out. There’s nothing left
But to share in my fate, or

Like the gatherers in the night,
Wait for the first cracks of the dawning light,
Be calm. but be ready to fight.

Photo shows children in Gaza. According to the BBC, conditions there are now the worst for over 40 years and the Israelis are threatening 'a holocaust'.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Naming the Dead




1- Eyad Al Ashram, Male, 26
2- Musleh Abu Ali, Male, 17
3- Jakline Abu shbak, Female, 17
4- Eyad abu Shabk, Male, 14
5- Basam Muhammad Ubaid, Male, 45
6- Basam Ubaid, Male, 15
7- Hamza Al jamal, Male, 40
8- Abdallah Abd Rabu, Male, 4
9- Ibrahim Alzain, Male, 25
10- Mustafa Zaghloul, Male, 32
11- Hamada Abd Al hameed, Male, 29
12- Saeed Al hasheem, Male, 23
13- Husain Al batsh, Male, 27
14- Samah Zaydan Asalya, Female, 17
15- Salwa Zaydan Asalya, Female, 23
16- Tala't Dardona, Male, 29
17- Mustafa Abu Jalala, Male, 28
18- Hasan Safi, Male, 25
19- Abdallah Abu Shaira, Male, 18
20- Mutasim Abd Rabu, Male, 24
21- Hamada Saleh Al abad, Male, 16
22- Mustafa Manon, Male, 22
23- Muhammad Sleem, Male, 24
24- Muhammad Abdalrahman Shhab, Male, 23
25- Ali Al Kitnani, Male, 15
26- Tal'at Dardona, Male, 17
27- Sana Ghad Al abed Saleh, Female, 16
28- Ahmed Albatsh, Male, 16
29- Muslih Muhamad Muslih, Male, 17
30- Thabet Junied, Male
31- Sultan Al zain, Male
32- Mustafa Abu Jalala, Male
33- Muhammad Al atar, Male
34- Nael Abu Alon, Male, 20
35- Muhammad Abd Al mouti Sleem, Male,
36- Saed Dabour, Male, 28
37- Hamada Saed, Male
38- Mahmoud Rayan, Male
39- Jedjad Hatem Abu Hlayal, Male
40- Thari Abu Aubaid, Male
41- Tamer Weshah, Male
42- Ahmed Saleh Abd Al rahman, Male
43- Muhammad Abd Al qader Oqylan, Male
44- Hasan Abu Harb, Male
45- Abd Al rahman Atallah, Male, 60
46- Ibrahim Attalah, Male, 30
47- Sua'd Atallah
48- Unknown
49- Unknown
50- Unknown
51- Unknown
52- Unknown
53- Unknown in Khan Yonis City
54- Unknown in Khan Yonis City

I have no words for poems.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rebirth




I

I was born
On Wenceslas Square
White flames playing with my hair.

II

I was born
In the National Stadium, Santiago City
Swimming in a surge of electricity.

III

I was born
On a Sharpeville Street
Bullets snapping at my feet.

IV

I was born
Twinned with Soweto’s pride
The day my brother, Hector, died.

V

I was born
In a cloud of Agent Orange near Da Nang
Listening to the lullabies the napalm sang.

VI

I was born
In front of the US Embassy
Under the boot, the hoof, trying to flee.

VII

I was born
In a cattle truck, Asbest bound
With Stukas circling round and round.

VIII

I was stillborn
One of two million invisible in Park Lane
One link in the unbroken chain.

IX

I was born
In Hiroshima’s fields of ash
At the press of one button gone in a flash.



X

I was born
In a Zeiklon shower
Corrupt fruit of a hateful flower.

XI

I was born
In the ghetto named the Gaza Strip
Product of gunship marksmanship.

XII

Listen well, my friend
No matter which way the smoke blows,
I will be born again.

The image is of jailed Palestinian children by Iqbal Tamimi.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Merde Doc




Any Monday, the news comes thick and grim.
The likes of you and I might flinch
At what we see and hear.
It doesn’t even register with him.

For he has acid flowing through his veins
And whilst we have thoughts and feelings
An open sewer gushes through his brains.

Every inch of flesh exposed,
Every epidemic of hate,
Every body rotting in the street
Adds to his ill-gotten gains.

He has their virtues all,
Judas, back street assassin,
Abu Graib interrogator,
Dachau doctor,
Pimp, pusher, paedophile
Rolled into one
Excreted, steaming at your feet..

The artwork is by Steve Bell. I hope he doesn't mind me borrowing it for this!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Primavera



How many shades
can be uncovered
in a single word?
As one begins to fade
a second is unveiled.
The one you thought you’d heard
blends seamlessly
with an unexpected third,
as when a dreamless sleep
implodes into the improbable,
a bud opens
and a new meaning
bursts into the air,
the wind rises,
petals everywhere
assume lives of their own,
spiral out of reach,
settle on the dark surface,
just above the salmon leap,
then swirl rebellious
towards the ravenous bay.


This poem has as its spark the song ‘Primavera’ performed by Mariza and recorded live on the CD ‘Concerto em Lisboa’. Listening to her had the effect of lifting me out of my usual sense of hopelessness and filling me with a sense of the possible. It seems a good poem to celebrate the arrival of James Matthew Eilbeck and to send our love to Jonathan and Lindsey. After all, they have ennobled us and elevated Kath and me to the status of Great Aunt and Uncle!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Crossing Borders



Open your hand.
Let maggots
and dollars
drop onto the sand.

Open your mind.
Be astonished,
as holes explode in walls,
at what you find.

Open your arms.
Let worlds flood
into your embrace
safe from any harm.

Open your heart.
This is a first step
on the journey of discovery.
This is our start.

Last night I was lucky enough to see the Ian McMillan Orchestra at the Arts Centre in Pontardawe, a magical evening. If you get a chance to see them, don't miss it!

Monday, January 21, 2008

If....



If you had been driven from your land,

If you were forced to stare at your olives
From the wrong side of a concrete wall,

If all your hopes were sand,

If you watched your village crumble
Before the bulldozers’ crawl,

If there was a tank parked at the end of your street,

If you had to queue for hours
With their gun-sights on your back,

If there was shattered glass constant beneath your feet,

If you had to lie here, trembling each night,
Awaiting the gun-ships’ attack,

If your school was a heap of rubble,

If you tore with bare hands at the wreck of your home,
But there was no one left to save,

If your crops were reduced to charred stubble,

If each day most journeys
Had as a destination an open grave,

If the ground was shaking beneath your feet,

If your voice was drowned
In the roar of F16s,

If your university was this broken street,

If everything you built
Was smashed to smithereens,

If you were in my place,
How would you reply
Were I to come to you,
With my smug face,
Counselling patience and moderation?

For all Palestinian mothers.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A message to Mariam Rahai from the Israeli Airforce ( after the fact )



It was not wise to be seen in the company of your sons.
Men of a certain age are like to be the ones
We seek out with our high technology.
So, you had another grandson on the way,
But surely it would have been wiser for you to stay
Cowering behind your own four walls
And though working from dawn until sun set
May be seen by some as industry, it was always likely to get
You here in the wrong place at the wrong time
With a donkey cart full of oranges like a neon sign –
Looking for a target? Here choose mine!
Let’s face it, at the age of 53,
You’d had your fair share of life, you must agree.
Love of your neighbour did not keep you safe from harm,
Nor did your love of peace and the calm
That followed you everywhere until today.
That’s not the way we see things from up here where
We can still see you lying in the street
With your own flesh mixed in with your hair.

"Either we all kill each other, or we share what there is to share."
Daniel Barenboim

Thursday, January 17, 2008

War Wounds



The surgeon left behind
a c shaped scar to mark the place
he cast the monster out.

On the ward, curtained out of sight,
Gerry roared delirious,
raging against the night.
He’d read that poem and had no intention
of going without a fight.

Angels gossiped in the half light,
discussed holidays in Spain.
My heart was fluttering wildly,
as their soft voices drifted
through the morphine’s sweet refrain.

Who can explain?
Who can tell me why
the skilled and gentle hands
soothing my body
belonged to another man
from Palestine,
so far from home,
practising the mercy
that we so easily deny?

Autobiographical. I'm still in one piece ( minus 1.6 kilograms!!! )and aiming to be fighting fit as soon as possible. This poem is for Mr. Ashour, Mr. Gibson, Leslie, Jane, Michelle, Louise, Martin, Reuben, Libby and all the other members of the Cardiac HDU team in Morriston Hospital ( some of whose names have slipped away in the mist ) who saw me through and not forgetting Kath, Sally and Richard who have been at my side all the way!