Sunday, February 27, 2011

Father of the Nation

Measure him by what he left behind.

In order to save this village from the reds
it was necessary first
to burn the villagers in their beds.

Measure his stature in blood.

In order to level the playing field
it was necessary first
to level the entire city.

Measure his words in the dull thud
of distant guns.

In order to preserve democracy
it was necessary first
to stamp out all opposition.

Measure his deeds in skulls.

In order to save our nation
it was necessary first
to destroy our country.

Measure his greatness in graves.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Flying Kites in Gaza

A bemused would be poet wandering
Through the surreal Jardin de Paris,
Wondering at the words he sent
Spiralling into the blue,
Remembered then the whistling
Of bullets through the air,
The crackle of the gunshots,
Remembered taking pot shots 
At rabbits in a Hampshire field.

But these were not aiming
At fleeing animals, these 
Picked out ragged boys at random,
As they prospected for stone,
Balancing between life and death
On the edge of their known world.

Theirs were not whoops of triumph or joy,
But shrieks of panic and despair
And seeping through the rags,
It was non-fictional blood
That matted their hair.

This is no place for dreamers.
There is no poetry here,
Lost amongst the petrified,
In an infinite landscape of fear.

This flows from the words of Michael Morpurgo in his fine Richard Dimbleby Lecture for the BBC last night. No matter how bleak things are, we must cling to the hope that walls can crumble and tyrants fall.