Is it just possible,

amongst all of the madness

and all the pain, all of

the blood and all that it’s stained,

that it just might be right

to consider once more

if there’s more to consider in

this abominable war.


I hear the phrase war crimes,

which – so far as it goes –

seems fine from the outside

but now more of us know that the

lofty ambition we all need to succeed

hides in the treetops, unheard and unseen.


You see, a crime is a war crime

if the criminal has lost – that is,

it has been found guilty, shall in

due course be sentenced and

required to pay costs. But the sting

in the tail is that even if we know

that a well-known warmonger be

held to our order, we may not impose

sanctions until sufficient serious

damage has been done.


A cynical restatement of the above

might look something like this:

a successful war crime prosecution

requires that the accused show that,          

to cover the treaty’s unfortunate hole,

it has dug another mass grave into which yet

more bodies will be tipped, thrown and rolled.


Such or similar is too often seen

even where the loser, unrestrained,

lays waste to communities, towns, cities

and populations; the loser has not yet lost,

so war crimes – what war crimes?

This gory story plays every day;

it’s the Russian way of making hay.


But I for one am loath to leave

this slice of Central Europe paradise

before squeezing out any doubt about

the various strains of venom that lie

unnoticed by most; for many of us

the ghost and ghoul who terrifies

fools is the ugly, noisy Austrian, for

others the Russian madcap social engineer.

Today, the reinventor of the latter,

our cheeky little Vladimir.


So, where does all this lead?

We have to deal with a death

machine but why the delay?

The means whereby await

 the call to engage, to devote

every sinew; but as the days

stretch out and learn to luxuriate

Vlad, an autolycus in his own sweet way,

stays in control of each Ukrainian’s fate.


For each day that passes and nothing is done

to end the insanity and tear up the plan,

we should tell all our politicians who

preside over such affairs that there are

some matters (such as this) which require

the highest standards of humanitarian care,

both where they are directly involved

and where they are far from the fire.


It seems to me that there is

no escape from the premise (or is it

just a promise?) that each human being

is born with the inalienable right not to fear

or be harmed by another; to live a

whole life and write down his story.

No hostile act may be claimed mere rehearsal –

it shall attract all remedies and be irreversible.


There is, in my view, one residual

and worrying consequence of allowing

Party A to participate in hostilities between

Parties B and C where there are distinct

humanitarian concerns. If A should assist

either B or C (or both), and the assistance

supports the assisted in perpetuating

those concerns, what must our younger

generations think of our martial morality?


Is it just possible that they read

Russia for Party B, Ukraine

for Party C and the US and UK

combined for Party A? And is it

just possible that, tender though

in age, they see Party A – which

has the power to end this most vile

of wars but declines – substantially

assists Party B in its ambitions?

Is it just possible furthermore that

they see Party A as doing the same

things (the ruin of Ukraine) as

Party B. And is it just possible that,

Heavens above, while some of them,

shame-faced, will beat on the doors

up there on Capitol Hill or at Number 10,

there may be some who say, hey, we’re

doing this the Russian way…or

should we be saying that this is

our way as from today? Finally, is it

just possible that, over five, ten or

twenty years our martial morality

might breed us some home-grown

gunners, too young to understand

the nuances of the deal between

A, B and C? Oh do give over please!





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Stephen Gospage

Wed 15th Jun 2022 09:58

Thanks, Peter. A wonderful, wide-ranging piece. It is interesting that this war is already being recharacterised, with people splitting into 'peace' and 'justice for Ukraine' camps. It's strange how peace seems to preclude justice!
Perhaps it shows how complicated it all is, as your poem brings out only to well.
Thanks again.

<Deleted User> (9882)

Mon 13th Jun 2022 20:30

Only to get more complex, cruel, and catastrophic, by the day.

Have we, without knowing, entered a time machine and been taken back to nineteen fourteen?

The thing we must not go on allowing is the possibility of our becoming nonchalantly hardened to the sufferings of others
as it seems we are doing and more so as these kind of terrible situations continue to mount in my opinion

God help us all.

Thank you Peter.

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Martin Elder

Mon 13th Jun 2022 19:20

This is a very thorough and well thought out poem. Excellent Peter and good to see you posting again.

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