Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Walls Tumble

And now you are connected to everything that ever was and everything that ever will be. And Joshua calls and the walls of Jericho tumble down. A line runs through history, and you are here, and he is there, but both of you have always been, will always be. Joshua cries, and I feel walls tumble, and ages pass, and all things are made holy as this mighty grandchild arrives.

On the arrival of Joshua, 18.8.14

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A Kind of Prayer

Sitting still in the forest is a kind of prayer. Each tree has a different voice, as the wind stirs its branches, and I listen in, on an endless, age old conversation. It starts to my right with  a deep deep hum, then encircles me, thrum, thrum, all around. Breeze on my face. A woodpigeon calls. Distant cars. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

One Good Reason

Give me a reason, give me one good reason why I should
never again, they said, this will never happen again
and the bride wore white and the groom wore black and
they all lived together in a little row boat clap clap - clap your hands
and warm them at the fire
we'll have pilchards on toast;
in the microphone, out the microphone, three bags full
Hold them to account
and by god, we don't know what's true or false
there's still a wall, there's still a wall
and I don't know how to
make sense of it all
Sense of it at all
but the sky is still perfect
and the full moon appears
and little bo peep has lost all her sheep in the war; and I"ll
just drink my tea now
just drink my tea and
just fall asleep until

Friday, 8 August 2014

Longing for Wings

As the wind catches me
on the walk back towards home,
I feel for a moment that I can fly:
As if this ancient tug is calling me
to spread my wings. I lift my face
to the grey sky and feel the wind.
Longing for wings,
I walk home.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Blood on your hands

Yes, there is blood on all our hands now ,
and the feeble post war cry "We didn't know! We didn't know!"
rings hollow, as we scroll through
the bodies piled in ice cream fridges,
and move on from yet another post about
yet more dead children in Gaza.

No one knew, supposedly, about the camps,
and the bodies piled high and cremated day by day,
and the piles of shoes, and glasses getting higher.
No one knew, and a shocked world recoiled in 1945.
Well now we know.

We know in every glance at our Facebook feed,
every tweet, we know, we know, we
listen to the spin and the things not said on the news as we
scroll through more pictures of dead children,
and open another bottle of wine.

Our governments have blood on their hands,
From the arms shipments sent, and the
media controlled, and do they sleep at night,
as the shells and rockets fall on a people trapped
in the biggest concentration camp of all?

The old colonial rule of choosing
one side to favour, another to blame.
And meanwhile the numbers of dead rise and rise,
until the numbers blur and we
can't imagine it any more.
Behind the dead, the maimed, the blind, the orphaned, the homeless,
and 400,000 people refugees
in a concentration camp, seeking shelter where now exactly?

For shame, for shame, you civilized world,
and there is blood on all our hands now,
and every leader who has failed to act,
should hang their head in shame.
Because you did know.
Because you do know.
The blood on your hands won't wash out.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

My heart cries with Gaza

I went to Israel in 1982,
with high hopes
and (vaguely) communist ideals,
and a sense of comradeship
with a jewish people
who suffered in the war
as my own polish parents had.

I met a boy in Jerusalem,
a palestinian, he
asked me if he could
talk to me
to practice his English;
could he meet me the next day
and he'd show me around.

I met him at 5pm
at the old city gate,
and he walked me up
the mount of olives,
and took me to
an arab cafe
for sweet tea and cake.

He told me he
wanted to learn,
but as a palestinian
living in Israel
he could not go
to university
to better himself.

And later, I wondered
about the arabs
living in shacks
around the perimeter
of the high fences
enclosing the rich lands
of the kibbutz.

Years later, I heard echoes
of the disparaging tones
in which the kibbutzniks
spoke of the palestinians
when the Sisters of Mercy
spoke of the "women"
who had worked in the laundries.

The same polite words
and barely contained sneers.
My father was stationed
in Rehovot during the war,
and I was excited to be there,
to connect lines in history, -
but the kibbutzniks weren't.

Their treatment of the volunteers
was arrogant. We weren't
good enough to mix with
the young people of
the kibbutz. Only to
pick their oranges, and
mind their old and very young.

I don't know all the history,
but I know an unequal battle,
and a story twisted
for economic imperative
and political gain.
I know a suffering people.
I know a concentration camp.

I know these futile words
will change nothing,
and I write them all the same,
and hold out my hands
to the mothers of Gaza
fiercely doing their best
to keep their children alive.

I've seen the Berlin wall fall,
and apartheid end,
and peace arrive in the North,
and I know justice can be found
and the bombing of hospitals stop
and the killing of children, playing
on a beach, be brought to an end.

Gaza is more than a place ,
it's the suffering of a people,
it's injustice and fear
and somewhere in there, hope.
A line of hope stretching
round the world as people
pressure their governments to act.

Tonight in Ireland,
my heart cries with Gaza,
as I lie in my peaceful bed,
listening to my son's breathing,
and knowing no bombs will fall
on this house tonight.
Thin threads of hope.