Ukraine (Remove filter)

Sending Tanks

I understand but don’t rejoice;

Steps may be both sad and vital.

In Prague in sixty-eight they said

That no one argues with a tank.

How right they were, although one man,

Brave as hell at Tiananmen,

Stood firm and stopped some in their tracks.

Now ministers of every hue

Queue up to mount these phallic toys,

The pitiless monsters of hate,

Murder machines for far-flung ...

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Letter from Ukraine

Lone husbands shed tears at birthday greetings,

Texted by their wives, estranged in the West.

Today’s public face of chilly winter,

The old man shivers for the cameras.

Helpless, like a baby, he tries language,

But no one cares. The caravan has moved on

To the banter of fighters in the East,

Joshing weakly as they scoop up bodies.

Life stirs somehow beneath a bombed buildin...

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Should I listen to Tchaikovsky

At the opera or ballet?

Should I enjoy his symphonies,

In recordings by the Hallé?


The ‘Little Russian’ tests our taste;

Some say it denigrates Ukraine.

And what about the Eighteen-Twelve’s

Bombastic cannon-ball refrain?


Divide the artist from his art?

That’s not the point; this artist’s great.

It’s not his fault where he was b...

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Prayer for Ukraine

Does anyone here believe in God?

Surely, if you believe in God,

You believe, for all its faults, in peace,

And there’s precious little sign of that.


Men dressed in gaudy robes and giant hats,

With pots of incense which they wave about,

Will bless all sorts of fighting and atrocity.

Blessed are the warmakers now, it seems.


That said, we know God is out there somewh...

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Zero Sum

Think pointless wars in places like Ukraine,

Where ungrown men are daily bashed to bits.

The battle rages on through sun and rain

And morning's loss foretells a later gain.


Lines move or bend, but finish up the same,

As reinforcements make sure each piece fits.

The casualties have no time to explain

The part as zero-sum pawns in this game.


The dead, we claim, like...

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Without Remorse

The blood of innocents spreads like a flood,

covering cities and fields

because a delirious egomaniac, without remorse,

needs to be named in history books


Cities and villages are turned into rubble

because a fiend, without remorse,

decides to restore an empire


Widows and orphans perambulate the streets

because a diminished despicable man,

without remorse or sha...

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Last Man Standing


(On 3 January 2023, Russia announced that 89 of its soldiers had been killed in an attack on Makiivka, Donetsk. Ukraine claimed that the number of dead was 400.)


I once travelled home on a London train.

It was packed; people pressed against the doors.

As I squeezed aboard, I noticed a sign:

‘Capacity four hundred; eighty-nine

Seated, the rest standing.’ I looked along


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