War & conflict

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark; (more…)


It is spring again. The spring is coming.
It is coming in
on crutches. Swallows nest in the ruins.

Someone has strung a clothes-line
in the graveyard
and a hundred diapers semaphore the wind. (more…)

I’d never been aware how beautiful my house is
until I saw it burning,
my schoolmate told me, who had twenty pieces of shrapnel
that remained deep under his skin after the war.
He wrote me how at the airport he enjoyed
having upset the customs officials who couldn’t understand
why the checkpoint metal detector howled for no reason.

They say the skies of Lebanon are burning,
Those mighty Cedars bleeding in the heat,
They're showing pictures on the Television,
Women and children dying in the street,
And we're still at it in our own place,
Still trying to reach the future through the past,
Still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone... (more…)

It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down.
It is not the houses. It is the spaces in between the houses.
It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist.
It is not your memories which haunt you.
It is not what you have written down.
It is what you have forgotten, what you must forget.
What you must go on forgetting all your life.
And with any luck oblivion should discover a ritual.
You will find out that you are not alone in the enterprise.
Yesterday the very furniture seemed to reproach you.
Today you take your place in the Widow’s Shuttle. (more…)

She was a city of patience; of proud name,
Dimmed by neglecting Time; of beauty and loss;
Of acquiescence in the creeping moss.
But on a sudden fierce destruction came
Tigerishly pouncing: thunderbolt and flame
Showered on her streets, to shatter them and toss
Her ancient towers to ashes. Riven across,
She rose, dead, into never-dying fame.
White against heavens of storm, a ghost, she is known
To the world’s ends. The myriads of the brave
Sleep round her. Desolately glorified,
She, moon-like, draws her own far-moving tide
Of sorrow and memory; toward her, each alone,
Glide the dark dreams that seek an English grave.

In this evil year, autumn comes early…
I walk by night in the field, alone, the rain clatters,
The wind on my hat…And you? And you, my friend? (more…)

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