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

An excess of pride…(two sonnets which can be read individually, but my intention is that you read them together as a single poem.)

injured-child

 

For life is not a young man’s game
To flutter like moths around a flame
Yet as we age the larger scene
Will leave the clues for us to glean.
And in maturing as we do
With friends right there to help us through
It’s clear, though some may need a shove
The only thing that counts – is love.

And of the world in which we live
So much war, who can forgive?
And yet forgiveness is a start
More men need Mandela’s heart
A blood-soaked land he turned to loam
By finding peace as he walked home.

——————————–

And so full circle back to dust
Disposed of with respect we trust
Earth to generation new
With baited-breath, what will they do?
For surely now they see the light
As love gets lost in vicious fight
And yet it could with care reside
If foolish men had far less pride.

For battles now need not be fought
If peace not power were what men sought
As children die along the way
Never to see a better day.
Look in their tiny saddened eyes
Sit down and talk, and compromise.

©Joe Wilson – An excess of pride…2016

war ravaged city

The sun shines very brightly now
Perhaps there is hope in our hearts
We struggle out from warm bedclothes
In sleepy fits and waking starts.
And time moves on as always
It waits not once for us
Tomorrow comes inexorably
Arriving without fuss.

For none of us can yet evade
That relentless passage of time
It’s how we choose to live our lives
Will dictate our chapter’s rhyme.
For in the end it matters
How we chose to live those lives
For life that’s lived in using pen
Achieves far more than sword-shaped knives.

And when the tide of hatred flows
There are those we should consider
Where fires are always being stoked
By those selling arms to the highest bidder.
The bottom line for the armourer
Is not about life, but death
They care not a jot for that innocent child
Or the fact that they stole her last breath.

So thus the sky clouds over
As cordite fills air once more
And some men will make more profit
As others set off to war.
That ever present danger lurks
And fear the watchword now
Where all would like a peaceful life
The ‘bloody’ question is how?

And politicians play their games
They’re juggling with your lives
But they don’t stand and face the foe
Or carry sword-shaped knives.
No sir, that job belongs to those
Who stand at the front and defend
And take the bullets and the danger
While politicians only pretend.

The sun shines very brightly now
Perhaps there was hope in our hearts
But some now lying in their beds
Await prosthetic body parts.
And time will still march slowly on
Though the innocence is no longer there
And the politicians have made their play
And the cost? They just don’t care.

©Joe Wilson – The cost…2016

Bittersweet

No place for children

How very sweet the roses smell
In the evening setting sun
As round a garden table sat
We drink fine wine and tales we tell.

Recalling things of little worth
As chat one does with friends
A little quiet spot we’ve found
Our peaceful place on Earth.

And yet – for others Hell will rain
As bombs fall from the sky
They’re simply people just like us
Caught up, in wars insane.

Such violence is the modern tone
And innocence lives no more
Where far away yet more will die
As they yield to anonymous drone.

And now the roses seem so bitter
A trifle in the scheme
While children fall to violence
And get scattered like so much litter…

©Joe Wilson – Bittersweet…2016

Finally, the report…

And so finally published
Blame clearly falls
It lands on poor intelligence
That decision for war still appals.
And all the strong opinions
Of those who begged, don’t go
Those protests that they all ignored
They said we didn’t know.
Yet since that time the very rich
Have grown yet richer still
While the poor share in the bullets
Death or poverty their bitter pill.
And what of those who pulled the strings
They’ve got away of course
And you can shout for justice
Till your voice grows weak and hoarse.

We never fight in the sandpits
In the gardens where the rest is just soil
But my word we fight in those sand hills there
Where below they found lots of OIL.

©Joe Wilson – Finally, the report…2016

Lord, why are we even here…

When I lay my head upon the pillow, Lord
And ponder this amazing world, I ask
What manner of creature did you think us
That You would set such an onerous task.
For surely we’re creative, Lord
We make such wonders grow
Advances in areas like science
There’s so much more we now know.
And yet, and yet, we kill ourselves
In wars and in the violent streets
There is no logic for these awful acts
So many dead bodies in blood-soaked sheets.
The wondrous planet on which life grows
We’ve blown up and torn it apart
We treat each other abysmally
You’d think we had no heart.
So why Lord, why entrust us
To care for our Earth this way
For we are turning what was green
Into infernal grey.

But I see you now Lord, I see you
You’ve acted with sleight of hand
You pray each day we’ll tire of this
For then we’ll understand.
But will it make us better, Lord
If Your faith in us is fulfilled
If at last our appetite is slaked
And no further blood is spilled.
It’s never easy to follow you, Lord
For You truly do move in mystery
But some of us work towards that peace
And to confine the horrors to history.
So I look more brightly to the future
In the hope that You’ll be our guide
In the constant search for calmer days
And Your companionship by our side.

©Lord, why are we even here…2016

Who in the Hell do we think we are…

And finding ourselves
here.
What next!
What wonder of technology
or genius thinking
could ever
eradicate
thousands of years
of prejudice
and contempt,
and not the least,
distrust?
Nothing!
Nothing that could replace
an acceptance of each other
and a coming together
of hearts
and minds
in realising
that all pervading truth.
We all live here,
we all die here.
Harmonious living
is surely less problematic.
(Here you can insert any WAR you choose),
for it has always been
Man’s greatest weakness
the thing which undermines him most
and yet seemingly,
his greatest undertaking.
Man is such a violent beast
we almost deserves no place here.
For in our selfishness
we destroy
the very beauty
of the planet itself.
Perhaps it’s time
we finally realised.
LIFE
is not a practice run.
It is the real thing.

©Joe Wilson – Who in the Hell do we think we are…2016