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Magnet (Kharkiv, 25 May 2024)

A magnet hung in the big, bright store,

Between the household and the sport,

When down came a pair of guided bombs

And more innocent lives were cut short.


Far away across the border,

Pampered strategists play chess;

They do not know the victims,

And are bothered even less.


This is the new reality

Of war devoid of shame,

Where women, men and children

Become the fairest game.


◄ The Naughty Little Boy

Omelette ►


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Stephen Gospage

Wed 29th May 2024 08:25

Thank you, Greg. Yes, what is happening in Ukraine and Gaza is truly unspeakable, as were the actions of Hamas on 7 October. I sometimes wonder why we dignify this cowardly violence with the word 'war'. 'State-sponsored murder' seems closer to the mark.

Thanks once again for your support.

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Greg Freeman

Tue 28th May 2024 08:57

As Graham says, thank you for continuing to remind us of what is happening in Ukraine, Steve - and for finding the words to do so. Such indiscriminate bombing and killing is equally taking place in Gaza, of course. There, words fail us.

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Stephen Gospage

Tue 28th May 2024 07:09

Thank you for your comments Graham, Telboy and David. And thank you to Hugh, Trevor, Aisha, Larisa, Holden, Manish, Stephen A, Bethany, Auracle and Rose for liking this.

I am grateful for all the support for my Ukraine poems.
Here, my use of the word 'new' related to the experience of people in Kharkiv (and, indeed, the whole of Ukraine) and, more particularly, to the families and friends of all the innocent people who died in the DIY store. That was all I meant by the use of that word.
In my humble opinion, indiscriminate bombing of residential areas, whatever the exact nature of the weapon used, is bound to lead to this sort of incident.

The 'magnet' was a reference to a song from Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Patience' - 'A magnet hung in a hardware store'.

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 27th May 2024 16:52

Stephen at the very least your poetry garners comment and thought which must be its cardinal purpose.
Truth and accuracy do not have to be the main driver. I am sure many old ballads and sagas about war are not painstakingly defined. Keep us talking about Ukraine!! That is the important message!

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Mon 27th May 2024 16:17

I must have missed the 'magnet' reference on the TV news. Also, I believe they used glide bombs which are not guideable and therefore will just hit random buildings, not targets as such. Or perhaps I am wrong?

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David RL Moore

Mon 27th May 2024 09:17

Hi Stephen,

I feel compelled to respond to this piece.

To be honest it made me flinch. To refer to the practices you describe as "The new reality of War" is to dismiss centuries of warfare in which the same values have been repeatedly displayed.

The issue I have with this inaccuracy/ommission is that it can colour peoples perception, in that it suggests such horrors have never been deployed before and therefore somehow those now engaged in utilising them are some new kind of animal never before seen.

There is also contained within your words an element of blinkered thought that could be seen as white-washing some of our own questionable history, elements of it not so long ago.

I doubt there is any intention in your writing to disregard horrors of the past. That said, to suggest current inhumanities are something new comes dangerously close to dismissing previously inflicted terrors. Strategists and tyrants alike have been slaughtering women and children for millenia and undoubtedly will continue to do so.

I commend your poem for drawing and fixing attention on the horrors of now. However, I believe the suggestion that these are new tactics somehow diverts from and diminishes the horrors of the past endured by millions.

Some might confuse my desire for accuracy as pedantry, my response to that would be to consider the millions. Not that any such consideration could bring them back... but it would offer a broader perspective on mankinds long history of inhumanity and the improbability of change.

I hope this comment is taken at face value as a concern for truthful balance and a steer away from reactionary prejudice.

The wickedness and horror of such acts is undeniably dispicable and inhumane no matter the perpetrator, with that I unreservedly agree and wish for their accelerated demise.


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