Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Ultimate Quiz

The noose is tightening.
It’s stolen my voice away.
Reduced to a feeble whisper,
But with so much left to say.

So many awkward questions
And only one answer,
So don’t go away.
The answers will not change,
However much you pray.

Q1. Which modern nation state justified
its existence on the graves of six million who died?

Q2. Which modern nation state came into being
with its own deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing?

Q3. Which modern nation state constantly expands
its boundaries, either by military conquest,
or the illegal settlement of occupied lands?

Q4. Which modern nation state brings to the feast
the largest arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons in the entire Middle East?

Q5. Which modern nation state, in its own cause,
employs extra judicial execution and kidnapping
of opponents, wherever they seek refuge,
in defiance of all international laws?

Q6. Which modern nation state
routinely imprisons tens of thousands
without charge or trial?
The world stands idle all the while.

Q7. Which modern nation state openly abuses
internationally banned weaponry
against dense civilian populations?
Who needs excuses?

Q8. The leaders of which modern nation state,
since the day of its foundation,
have all been members of violent terrorist organisation,
or personally involved in the most brutal massacres.
Where do we hear a word of condemnation?

Q9. Which modern nation state, alone, defies
the laws of Economics with
a permanent balance of trade deficit?
while we must scrabble to make ends meet,
they get money manna from a bottomless pit.

Q10. Which modern nation state, my brother,
is in defiance of more UN resolutions
than any other?

How have you scored on this one track quiz?
Do you even care what the answer is?
Do you dare to leave us all alone,
or will you join with us to tear it down.
stone by bloody stone?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Midnight on the bare mountain,
pressing flesh into stone,
seeking shelter from the wind
that slices to the bone,
facing down my fears
until the demon’s done.

Mid-day/night in anonymous cell.
The light always bright in my eyes,
so who can tell? I count the scratches
on the bloody wall, the ones that mark
each blow that landed, each time I fell,
each time you dragged me up, the smell
of your sweat, my fear now,
waiting for your footsteps’ warning fall,
running finger tips over cuts and grazes,
feeling bruises bloom and swell.

Midnight on the king-size bed,
Plenty room to toss and burn,
Time enough and more to listen
To the slow wheel’s turn.

For all Palestinians imprisoned ( the majority without trial ) by the Zionist state.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


What becomes
Of all the fragments, imagery,
Witticisms, bon mots,
Which never make it
To the final page?

Follow this path,
Down to the beach
And if you search,
You will find some,
Carelessly dropped on all sides,
Clinging to the marram,
Sliding away beneath your bare feet,
Dervishing in the distance,
Where the skeletal silhouette
Of a wrecked poem juts

You will discover them gritty
Under your tongue and teeth,
In your cheese sandwich,
Filling every pocket, fold,
Shaken out of your hair,
Mocking you from the car boot.

Be warned -
Where lost ideas abound,
Most surely lowly scavengers are found.

Watch that run down poet, word prospector
Trawl the bay with shiny metaphor detector,
Desperate for the tell-tale ping,
The signal that the King’s lost ring
Lies just a trowel’s depth away.
Not the tenth easy open end, another fruitless day.

Spare us the sight of redundant Wapping hack,
Mounted proud on JCB’s bucking back,
Building a mighty heap of sand,
Ready for his slovenly hand
To fashion a mighty castle in the air,
So the gullible might gawp and stare,
Wonder what he’ll conjure next
After the battlements, cans, Castlemaine XXXX.

It is a mercy
That the wind and waves,
Not knowing who or what we are,
What we have achieved or,
What wonders we have seen,
Combine come end of day
To scour the ravaged mindscape clean.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


I cannot speak of it.

My mouth is stopped.
A finger pressed a button.
A bomb dropped.

White phosphorous lit up the place,
which used to be our home.
The flesh fell from my face.

My bones reduced to dust,
inseparable from stones,
blood boiled black as rust..

No cameras rushed here to record.
This grave is unremarkable.
Of what happened here, not one word

was written. No testimony was heard.
Just another day in this prison city.
Nothing extraordinary occurred.

Tomorrow, the bomber will return.
The button will be pushed again.
Someone else’s turn to burn.

They too will have no voice,
unless you choose to speak for us.
The time has come to make your choice.

The last two poems should be read as a pair. They are not mutually exclusive, but‘Silence’ is a counterweight to the understandable emotions of a 9/11 relative in ‘Denial‘. It is a human response with which we empathise. The tragedy is that in terms of public awareness, Gaza barely registers on the public psyche and ‘Silence’ sets out to put this right.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


I will not speak of it.

That will make it true.
My words will give form
to your hands, as your reach out
for me. I will feel your warm
breath on my skin. Your voice
will ring in my ears. Keep calm.
Take your time. I will hear you
laughing at my fear.

I could dream the months
of waiting away. Would you return
in the shape of strident knocking
on our front door, a plain,
buff envelope flopping onto the hall floor,
the hint of a footfall?

While the images spool
round and round, we watch
the impact, hear no sound,
towers crumble to the ground,
rise up once more,
then crash back down.

I will not see the uniform, his face,
Or sense his stumbling words
Numb in my ears. A body
Will not be found. That time
Will not come.

I will not speak of it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Family Values

Sing a song of speculators
Buying up all the gold,
Bright young boys of Bullingdon
Your futures we have sold.
No thoughts for our pensions,
No fears of growing old,
Insulated from real life,
Protected from the cold,
What we inherit at our birth,
We will always hold,
As we fill out the orders
And you do what you’re told.

Sing a song of currencies,
Pockets full of holes,
In the City digging,
Like demented moles
Bunkers by the dozen,
Bolt holes, far and wide.
You’re too busy paying,
Being taken for a ride.
The poor are getting poorer.
The rich are growing fat.
Please put all your savings
In the failed banker’s hat.

Quite a day today. First of all, the Postie brought me a Paul Simon CD, ‘So Beautiful or So What’, which came from Fellow writer, Beryl Henshaw. Then brother-in-law, Chris and partner Fred(erika) arrived from Edinburgh bearing poetry - ‘A Rose Loupt Out’ commemorates the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Occupation 40 years ago, in song and poetry and beautiful illustrations; ‘Strangely Happy’ is Anna Crowe’s excellent translation of the Catalan poet Joan Margarit, wonderful, passionate. Ah bliss!
3rd September.