Ukraine (Remove filter)

Small Print

It’s the rifle-butt nature of all this:

Sit down, shut up, sign here, do as you’re told.

We talk about land grabs, but this is, well,

An extortion, of dignity and heart.

There’s a bash for the scammers in the North,

And jobs for the boys. Lot’s of them, no doubt.

Imagine this: ‘Yes, I’d love to be ruled

By the people who blew this place to bits

And killed or maimed our frie...

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What should be a simple counting of heads

Is here a pratfall buried with the bones

Dumped near the fenced-off railway sheds.


For freedom’s optimistic tidings

Are out of fashion in these parts,

Their wagons mothballed in the sidings.


In place of a future based on trust,

The polished tracks will soon become

A instrument of power’s grasping lust.


This will no...

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I knew this one. In different times

She could have led so many lives:

Doctor, artist, mother, teacher,

One of a band of merry wives.


A guess, of course. She was so young,

And now is hauled out of this pit.

Laid out for ever in a shroud;

Deprived of all her charm and wit.


This place concealed a tragic tale;

A savage tumult oozing waste.

Like her, each one had...

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High Season (Our Village Liberated)

They’ve done a runner; thank goodness they’re gone.

Let’s face it, they were a pain, all summer:

Every morning, their ugly mugs on view.

We remembered their sort from holidays:

Stripped to the waist, with their lobster tans,

Letting off steam until the small hours

And dumping all their rubbish when they left.

They puffed on stinking fags and terrorised

The local girls, wher...

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The Big Men


The Big Men limber up for war,

Showing off their guns and rockets;

The Big Men strut around the town,

Looted cash stuffed in their pockets.


The Big Men are toning their muscles,

To beat their captives into shape;

The Big Men snigger at reports

Of instances of wartime rape.


The Big Men hide behind the lines,

To dodge the other side’s attack;

The Big Men’...

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A Quiet Little Man

A quiet little man,

Lurking in the corner;

Keeps all his powder dry,

Looks no one in the eye.


A quiet little man,

Is pacing up and down,

Dying to go public

On the next big subject.


A quiet little man,

Projects his tiny voice;

Points his jabbing finger

At victims of his choice.


A quiet little man

Deals from his wily pack.

He smiles upon his f...

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'Write Something'

Late one evening, not doing much,

I glimpse the latest news on screen.

Soldiers from Ukraine, dismembered

At the front, battle to insert

The cold stumps of their missing legs

Into new replacement hollows:

Each faltering step agony,

Their cries the rage of raw courage.

All hanker to re-join the fight

And kick the cheap destroyer out.

Anger swells, somewhere. They shoul...

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Afternoon Stroll

We strolled down the streets of Kyiv

One balmy August afternoon,

Past burned-out skeletons of tanks,

Which might as well live on the moon.


We understand this rough display,

To boost a noble people’s mood,

But battles rage not far away,

Where wrecks like this are caked in blood.


Conflict is a harsh performance;

You enemy is marked as bad.

But truth, uncomfort...

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Dawn in Ukraine

Dawn is another day, we say;

It has to be a time of hope,

The vanquishing of night,

The promise of the new,

The turning of a page,

An exit from our dreams.

But is that really what it means?


The start of the day, in some way,

Does nothing but confirm our fears.

It is proof that nothing changes,

That night cannot be chased away,

That dread and cunning stalk our...

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It is a brutal game, this war,

But certain lines you do not cross.

Conventions have to be maintained;

It’s difficult to say much more.


When you see this, when you see this –

You know damned well of what I speak –

No human souls should be hung out

Unclaimed and near to the abyss.


Someone will try to wriggle out

Of these evil exhibitions,

Claim force majeure o...

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Through the spectral quiet

Of this deserted place,

The tanks go rolling by

In their odd little race.


It’s hardly a surprise

That they proceed so fast;

There’s nothing here to see,

Since that almighty blast.


So as they disappear

Along the dusty road,

The silence will renew

Its dark, despondent load.

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‘Come see my new blockbuster’,

The film director smiled.

‘It’s about a sinner

And all those he defiled.


It’s about the cities,

Reduced to smithereens;

It’s about the soldiers,

Cut down in their teens.


It’s about the people,

Running for their lives;

It’s about an exodus

Of children and of wives.


It’s about the cowards

Who fire long range shells;


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(On 21 July 2022, it was reported that 15,000 Russians have died in Ukraine and 45,000 have been wounded).


Fifteen thousand Russians dead in Ukraine;

Innocents, for the most part, made guilty

By the vicious vanity of old men,

Using the war like a wild young lover,

To prove they can do it, still get it up.

In their pointless, far-off rumpus, blood spills

As one hundre...

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The Shape of Ukraine

Though every nation’s shape must be unique,

The outline of Ukraine attracts our gaze.

A sense of the vulnerable protrudes

From this quiet space, once so short on hate.

This is where fear comes in; borders store

Culture, landscape, language and traditions,

Encircling the rich plains of history.

More than that, they preserve our memories,

Of sunny dreams, glistening on water.


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Fancy Names

Let’s consider this, just for a moment:

Hundreds are slaughtered in attacks on schools,

On apartment blocks, or shopping centres.

Yet still we call it this fancy name: War.

We hand out medals, salute the stupid,

And march up and down wearing silly clothes.

If I sent bombs towards civilians,

I should go down as a mass murderer;

But in this mad world, I am a hero,

Doused w...

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Dying in Ukraine

They’re dying every minute in Ukraine.

They die up at the front and in the towns,

Cheered on by generals and circus clowns,

Who push the envelope to entertain

With their own brand of tragedy and pain.


They’re dying every minute in Ukraine.

Lives may be swapped for twenty feet of land,

Transactions nobody can understand,

Fought out in summer heat or pouring rain.

It ...

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A New Life

Sometimes, in villages, you hear old men

Who tut that things are not how they should be.

They knew the boy. It had been a close call.

A few months before, he was still at school,

A cheeky sort, though decent in the round,

But one morning, flaunting teenage stubble,

He joined the beards and testosterone.

The bullet was not long coming. Alex,

Known as ‘tree trunk’, once the l...

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The war does not discriminate;

Fists clenched, it grits decaying teeth

And laughs its cocky, cackling laugh

Before the tanks and missiles strike.

Onlookers trawl chunks of horror

From the ocean of public grief,

Where treasured souvenirs are crushed

And no one can identify

The charred remains in plastic bags.

Yet those round here whisper a name:

A woman, a teacher by t...

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Trollies in Kremenchuk

I curse the bloody things sometimes.

Last Monday at the Shopping Mall

I grabbed one but a wheel was jammed.

The next one veered off to the right

And the last trolley in the row

Simply collapsed before my eyes.

I went outside to the car park

And spotted a shiny model

In the far corner. Just the job,

I thought, and marched off to claim it.

Light and mobile, it was perfe...

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At the Front

Close now. I think. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

War takes away perspective with its taste

Of danger, its relentless jabs of fear.

Yes, we can see them. Just across the field,

Behind the trees but not quite out range.

Easy prey for our telescopic sights.

They’ll probably never know what hit them;

Two of them are down, the rest run away.


Bloody cowards, just like we wou...

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Splendid Youth


The war is sucking up our splendid youth.

They’re racing to the front; they won’t come back.

Each town and village starts to empty out,

As friends and classmates go on the attack.

They’re fighting for our dignity and state

Of freedom and of happiness pursued,

But consequences, each one plainly knows,

Could be unmentionably vile and rude.

In these now quiet streets the ...

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I wonder if those who lay the mines down

Stay put and wait for victims to approach,

Or, with a surreptitious grin, retreat.

As for the victims, no imagining

The horror of their plight will bring them back.

The miner and mined have done their duty.

In moral terms, they seem so far apart:

One bad, one innocent. But consider.

They are both under orders not to think:


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A Hundred Days

A hundred days have passed since it began.

So anyone who came of age since then

Will know of nothing but this raging war,

Impardonably thrust into our lives.

Are all attempts to look beyond such days,

Anonymously scribbled on the wall,

A futile antidote to these cruel ways?

Or something sinister which may recall

A game which every canny person plays:

To test how far the ...

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The look on Mum’s face told its own story;

Our dad’s weekly letter had failed to arrive.

In its place, as sombre as a scarecrow,

Was a black-bordered missive from the state.

When we left, it seemed like an adventure:

Hugs and backslaps and putting on a smile.

Then the train rides, through cold nights and long days.

I don’t know where we are. They all seem nice

But they spea...

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They’re performing a foxtrot in Davos,

The great and the good are crossing the floor;

While deep in Ukraine, with little to gain,

The dance is wilder than ever before.


The movers and shakers are out in force,

They move their careers and their buyback bids;

While near to Kyiv, with little to give,

Old jackets are shaken to feed the kids.


Designer shoppers and vegan...

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City Tour

Good afternoon, you’ve come from far and wide;

In Mariupol, I shall be your guide.

Do not believe the lying foreign press,

Who will pretend this place is one big mess.

Just look at the improvements we have made:

All that extra space, if a bit less shade.

(And any minor damage has been done

By outside agents who have cut and run).

You see that souvenir shop with its flags?


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Many here will go to heaven,

Though some of us will go to hell.

These places stand on worlds apart,

But who does badly? Who does well?


We think that sinners should be sent

To purgatory down below,

But in a war all lines are blurred;

Good people may not even know


That they deserve an afterlife

Of peace and comfort and of joy,

While devils rise in our esteem


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Day 82


You wake again in dawn’s reluctant light;

The neighbour’s wife and youngster have both fled.

He shivers as he clings hold of his gun

And, unrefreshed, falls on his lonely bed.


War, looking back, can be a lucky break.

Men who once cleaned up a factory floor,

When it is over, build a better life;

At present, it’s a terrifying chore


Of trembling hands, impending...

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My Enemy

I felt a numbness after the event:

A single shot, and this was just a boy,

Barely out of school. He lay, open-mouthed,

And I thought of his family and friends,

His teenage passions, posters on the wall,

His portrait of pride, hanging in the hall.

Suddenly, my mates were surrounding me -

We had blown a hole in enemy lines -

Slapping my back, but I was now alone.

One may a...

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Anger Management

We should not yield to anger,

Nor trespass upon kindness.

There are other ways to staunch the boiling blood.

The sight of yesterday’s Victory parade,

With its wind-up, flat-pack military,

Its gross salutes and guns and strut,

Its little man made out of wax,

Talking for ages through his nut,

Made me grimace at the waste

And at the tragic, pointless load

Of fresh-dead b...

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I thought he would be giving us a wave,

But no. An old gent, looking quite cheesed off.

As an individual, he had good points,

But I don’t want his statue in this town.

He has too much baggage; I’m short on tact.

Anyway, we do not need more clutter.

These damned edifices are everywhere:

Footballers, dogs, forgotten men in wigs.

In some spots you can hardly move for them.


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I once passed a little village

Where locals met and chatted in the square;

Some, most withdrawn, played cards and smoked.

The place was poor but free from fear or care.


When required, the work was done;

Winters were hard but held a certain charm.

Then all too soon the tanks rolled in;

There was no time to ring out the alarm.


Now, though the buildings are long gone...

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Stop. Go back to your make-believe,

For what is real is hard to bear.

In normal times we take a stroll

And look around and sniff the air,

But now imagination rules,

No entertainment lives out there.


Three heroes in their sailor suits

Dance to the tunes of ‘On the Town’,

While outside bombs and missiles land

And innocence comes crashing down.


The burned-out s...

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Red Sky at Night

Not many shepherds live around these parts,

But down the road the buildings are ablaze.

In semi-darkness, citizens with pails

Run like hares towards the smoky haze.

I stop one in passing. ‘I’m Jan,’ he says.

His features throb with duty and despair;

His younger friend stands polishing a gun.

Our lives are here, but could be anywhere.

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I popped out to the shops to buy some bread;

When I returned my family were dead.

A missile had destroyed our neighbourhood;

From this time onwards, nothing will be good.

I cannot understand these men of war;

I cannot comprehend what this is for.

We had no quarrel with our former friends;

How can these means advance their twisted ends?

Were they at war, my children and my w...

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Knock, Knock!

Knock, knock
Can you hear me?
Please let me in
I'll save you from God
And convert you to sin


I won't abandon 
Or show you no care
I'll give you free horns
So you know that I'm there!


I'll speak in wry tongues
Only you understand
And tattoo your soul 
With my 666 brand!


I'll make you new shoes
(On the hoof, as it were)
You'll be able to trot
Through my pit of de...

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You Will Pay for This

On “Victory Day”  Knee deep in blood


The arms and limbs of the dead

Climb up you

In day and night terrors.

Murdered by you











All silenced by you


Your final solution…

Like the Jews in the ghetto.

All must go


But on your death bed

“Your god” whispers


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Let us pray

I want there to be a God.

I want there to be someone

I can pray to in hard times

And feel the warmth of family.


But when I see all this death,

All this doom and destruction

And reach out for some solace,

Who is there to answer me?


Religious leaders bang on

And pass round the piled-high plate,

But can they stop the nightmare

And bring back sons and daughte...

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'Grieving Ukrainian Mother' (As seen on TV)

The caption caught my eye with morning tea;

Tearful in woe, she loomed large on the screen.

The opened plastic bag revealed her son;

Her heartbreak and distress was hard to bear.

The brother held her in a sad caress;

Distraught, they parried questions from the press.


And I was torn. Should this not be discreet,

This tragedy, and not for public view?

Then someone else, ...

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When the rain stops, and the clouds part,

We venture out to take a look,

And for one brief moment wallow

In some space of blessed respite.

A shower has freshened up this place;

The violent mist has melted

Into compost’s damp aroma,

Birdsong breaks the tuneless silence.

The lives not lived, through their absence,

Remind us of the dry prelude,

Crackling in heat and nois...

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Staged Event

It wasn’t that complicated,

But it had to be authentic.

No point in actors playing dead.

Think about it! They’ll sneeze or twitch

As the cameras start rolling

And give the whole damn game away.

Luckily we had true patriots,

Prepared to sacrifice their lives,

Ready to jump in plastic bags

And take a bullet in the head.

Thousands were queueing round the block.


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My Little Girl



Sssh, it's just the thunder 

My little girl

Pack a bag

Don't feel sad

I know Daddy has to stay 

But he's keeping 

The big bad wolves at bay

Don't cry, don't cry!

We'll say goodbye

He'll come back soon

And bring the moon

And we'll eat it

With a big, fat spoon!

That's more like it!

Giggles & smiles

Daddy can see them 

From miles &...

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UkraineSenseless War

The Prince and King Rat

Once upon a time
in a land not too far away 
People lived their lives
in a free and happy way 

Their leader a Prince amongst men
smart, brave and strong
His countrymen praised him
to them he could do no wrong 

Their close neighbours
came from “the land of make believe”
Ruled by a corrupt dictator
whose mission was to deceive

He was an monstrous ogre
a ruthless, greedy billionair...

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I didn’t have to do this job;

There were many things on offer,

But somehow I fell into it.

Most days it’s pretty routine:

Emptying the bins and the bags.

But yesterday, everything changed;

The cameras and microphones

Screamed indignation at the world,

While the crows and vultures circled

For a sniff of plastic-wrapped flesh.

Unfamiliar with our task,

We tidied up, ...

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In the Silence

The cars outside my window

Rumble to and from places

Without a care in the world


The children scream out Mehmet’s name

To come out to play

And when he does

Their little faces light up  


In Mariupol there is just silence

A bird sarcastically chirps

A dog sniffs round

But there is nothing to eat


The rumble of tanks has gone

The screams have ...

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The Air Of Spring

Last week the pretty trees blossomed 
it felt like spring was in the air
Now it feels more like winter 
those fragile blooms scattered everywhere 

The sunshine brought out bright colours 
the butterflies, bees and flowers
Now the gloomy grey has returned
as we dodge harsh, wintry showers


If I could be a super hero
I would be the “Air of Spring” 
I’d sprinkle rays of hope an...

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Blue and Gold

Harrogate 21/3/22


It’s when I see the kites

a family are flying on the Stray

and notice how they glint in blue and gold

belatedly I catch on, how today

the bichrome of the flag of the Ukraine

has never been completely out of sight:

I’ve seen its vivid tones unrolled


not just where you’d expect:

flourished on the apex of a pole;

sellotaped to windows or on do...

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Missile Ways

Missile Ways

What's up the sky and the Russian planes?

Before they're splashed by Stinger missiles

Whoosh! Missile away go go go kill a jet

Or chopper bring it down in the water

Let the crew freeze or drown

Some burn alive or get killed in the crash

How dare they invade Ukraine!

Teach them all a lesson forever

Some things not to be forgotten

Like Duncan in Dune 2021 d...

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Tupolev 141 Drone




Tupolev 141 Drone

Those old drones and planes and choppers all sat there just waiting to fly to war. Polish the metal fuel them up kick the tires away they go. No crew just needed just a memory of flight. Something part of their fabric like their wings or engine. A thing part spirit part elemental that exists beyond human comprehension though we built the machines.


Now t...

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The pretty lady screams


Putin’s bombs just murdered her baby

What life will the young mum have now?

In a shattered country war death hate killing

The bastard waited decades for this


And acted not caring the cost

Of Russia’s neighbouring nation

Plus thousands of dead Russian soldiers

Let the traumatised lady be an example


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