Monday, January 21, 2008


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!