I’ve recently been reading a debut book by Barbara Nickless (Blood on the Tracks). Having thoroughly enjoyed it, I looked at her website which also became a thoughtful and enjoyable experience. Her lead character is Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell of the railway police, a former marine with Mortuary Affairs. It’s also worth reading ‘Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq’ by Jessica Goodell and John Hearn for real insight into that which we don’t really want to know, the recovery of dead soldiers. I felt rather compelled, I hope no one is hurt or offended…

Ghosts – survivors guilt…

Along the ridge, bit by bit we crawled
Slowly, pinned down by well-equipped rebels
There had been so many of us at first
We were now like a small bunch of pebbles.

There was Al, a baker back in easy street
Who regaled us with tales of his cakes
Who wanted to get home to his wife and kids
As we all did, for Heaven sakes.

He drove us mad sometimes…

Tim, a horologist in the world that was real
Course he mended everyone’s clocks
Got caught on a desert road one day
We just found his watch and his socks.

Time just seemed to stand still for a while…

And there was Jess, at only five foot four
Perhaps the bravest soldier I knew
Got shot to death by sniper fire
After rescuing two of her crew.

We all feared the bloody snipers…

And then there’s me, a corporal in charge
All the officers gone, and Sarge too
I’d like to be home with my poetry books
But there was killin’ work there left to do.

There was no fun in that at all…

Finally we managed to reach an end
Then the drawdown came and we flew
But dead soldiers faces oft haunt me now
As for so many soldiers they do.

Goddamn politicians can’t explain that away…no Sir!

©Joe Wilson – Ghosts – survivors guilt…2016

Such foolish pride…

Locked up safe inside the brain
Those thoughts of you and all your pain
Pain that he had wrought on you
Accusations, cruel, untrue.
Alone, forgiven, here he’ll sit
To have your love he is unfit
And thinking back his tears return
To fall on guilty cheeks that burn.

Such foolish pride do men possess
Who when mistaken, can’t confess
Yet sit alone and brood unnerved
Where conversation isn’t served
Until at last we face ourself
And see our guilt in all its wealth.

©Joe Wilson – Such foolish pride…2015

The bullet…

That day yet rests heavy upon my mind
For I was one they chose to fire the shot
Yet in the intervening years since then
No night has passed me by where I forgot.
A guilty man was he, and dangerous too
Got every chance in a trial so fairly driven
The panel’s verdict, the only right outcome
No quarter asked for and none was given.

To think such men are volunteers
Is a view that only politicians would portray
You only get one choice to do the ending deed
And they let you know, you’re through if you walk away.

A bullet you never see is loaded for you
And all you have to do
……………………………….is remember…

©Joe Wilson – The bullet…2015


I remember how you gave your heart
Wrapped up in a kiss and a sigh
You loved me with your passion
Did I really, really try!

I think I did, I think I did.

And yet your love, amazing love
It never ever waned
You always gave me all your heart
And I never saw your pain.

I was always looking the other way.

I could never bear my company
But I find myself alone
With guilt that I cannot forgive
For sins I can’t atone.

I will go unredeemed unto death.