When the old Soviet leaders
Went hunting for the day,
The animals were sedated
To make them easy prey.
Some decades in the future,
They send in droves to war
Minds numbed so much they do not know
What they are fighting for.
I guess there is a parallel;
It always has been thus.
Lemming and lamb go to their doom
With bare bones of a fuss.
Friday 10th March 2023 5:17 pm
This indescribable Hell.
Go ahead, describe it:
You are bound to come up short.
Those nearby can’t do the job;
To them it’s still neighbourhood,
And photographs, as we know,
Will never do it justice.
Perhaps this is the way Hell
Gets away with its nonsense;
Its mammoth violation
Too vast to get a grip on,
So that no one even tries.
A brief sun bursts through the...
Tuesday 7th March 2023 5:08 pm
Tears In The Rain
Savour this warmth
Within me you see
For, what shall return
May no longer be me
That which these eyes
Have still yet to see
May make a small shell
Of all I could be
Though, I fear I may not
Come back at all
Lying still and alone
Wherever I fall
Show my daughter a photo
When her world feels small
The one where we're laughing
At nothing ...
Monday 6th March 2023 10:21 am
It’s only anonymity
Which makes us go to war;
When soldiers meet up face to face
They wonder what it’s for.
They talk of friends and relatives,
About whom they all care;
Discuss the beauty of the world,
Which they delight to share.
They do not bow to nation states
Or military types,
Whose mission is to keep them down
By tapping on their stripes.
Sunday 5th March 2023 9:08 am
The risk is there's nothing left but hate,
Or loathing and calls for revenge.
Should we prevail, one understands;
In battle, feelings are stripped down,
Until all that remains is raw,
Sensitive to the lightest touch
And far too easily provoked.
It’s simple, from many miles away,
To preach reconciliation
And call for offering of hands.
Less straightforward if family...
Friday 24th February 2023 7:43 am
The Late Show
We used to sit out in the Maidan Square
Before the war, and chat into the night;
Our arguments continued well past twelve.
We called ourselves the late show, like TV.
But now there is a late show every day:
Late husbands, brought back home in body bags;
Late wives, uncovered by a fire crew;
Late children, each identified by toys,
Beneath the expendable wrecks of schools....
Tuesday 21st February 2023 8:53 am
Tread softly, the poet said, on my dreams.
Ukraine: a girl with a hunger for life
Took a detour on her way to school
To pick some early snowdrops for the class,
And some as a present for the teacher.
Cowardice is not equal in a war:
If you run from fighting, you are punished,
But if you scarper after laying mines,
You are feted as a hero, adorned
With medals, as your unk...
Monday 13th February 2023 9:25 pm
The sky looked weary
Pale and colourless
As were we
I laid down my rifle
and thought of what I'd told her
I'd left it in the hollow of her mind
In the place where dreams ascend
So, when the day came
they could carry
all that grief & sorrow away
and feed it to the clouds
for when they felt like crying
And on that day
Laden with the burden of
Friday 10th February 2023 4:35 pm
It’s bizarre that Eurovision,
That riot of drivel and camp,
Became a combatant in war:
Builders bopped to the Ukraine song.
Politicians of every sort
Are decked out in blue and yellow.
Hollywood types, shocked in their awe,
Enlist and worship at the shrine.
Lottery winners in hard hats
View body bags through telescopes.
Pray silence for the giant screen.
Monday 6th February 2023 9:04 am
The theatre of war
Is two steps from your chair.
You watch it on the screen,
You calculate the odds
While weighing up the form
And placing your next bet
On where the bombs will fall.
Those in the know predict
That Kyiv is odds-on.
The news comes through at six:
Bulls-eye! Time to collect,
For your holiday cruise.
But please, gamble responsibly!
Thursday 2nd February 2023 4:56 pm
The Finer Things
Wars are the usual bag of tricks:
Fought by the same class of suckers,
Straight out of factory or school,
Uncomplaining and scared to death.
Heads crammed with patriotic guff,
They squirm in trenches at the front
And finish dead or short of limbs.
Those who survive, when they return
To a country fit for heroes,
Are told, in no uncertain terms,
To shut up and to know t...
Tuesday 31st January 2023 8:50 am
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 ...
Friday 27th January 2023 4:47 pm
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...
Tuesday 24th January 2023 7:56 am
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...
Sunday 22nd January 2023 9:16 am
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...
Tuesday 17th January 2023 8:19 am
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...
Saturday 14th January 2023 5:30 pm
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...
Thursday 12th January 2023 4:04 pm
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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