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Category: Remembrance

Ground Zero

What did they feel I wonder?
As they were swept away on that hideous wave.
That same wave that so terribly burnt the names
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Into our dull consciousness.

Were they afraid, did they feel terror
In those few seconds?
Did they think on their loved ones,
Did they know they were going to die,
Or were they just living their ordinary lives?

Were the children playing in the streets?
Were the mothers shopping, washing, talking?
Were the fathers working as they had always done?
Did they have brothers I wonder
Fighting at the front?

So many died in that instant, in that twinkling of an eye,
All on the orders of a solitary man so far away.
And so many of the undead
Suffered so terribly.
Was it worth it?

And now so many years later
What lessons have we learnt?
Could it ever happen again?
Will so many people die so needlessly
Or can we learn to live in peace?

13/01/1990

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The Selfless Flame

The candle in the corner splutters and dies
Fading slowly to dimness
Casting strange dancing shadows on the walls
Until it is engulfed by growing darkness
And only a glowing ember is left
Where its life used to be
And then that too disappears
Just the smoke remains
Forlornly forcing its way heavenward
And then it too is gone
And all is left in cold blackness.
Who had warmed their frozen hands
Around this self-same flame?
How many children had played late at night
In its warm and friendly light?
How much was done
Whilst this candle gave of itself
Unselfishly, unceasingly
Using what it had only for others
Until all was consumed
And it left us alone with the dark
The cold and lonely dark

04/08/1992

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A Homecoming

Suburban walls, suburban gardens,
Suburban bricks
Confront me
A decade on
So much has changed
Behind my suburban exterior
Am I as unrecognisable
As the scene before me?
As cold, as hard, as bleak?
So much changed
Beneath the same shell
Like these houses and shops
Am I, like them,
Decaying,
Rotting from within?
Have these ten long and weary years
So etched their pain
Into the very stones of my soul
That I may never return
To what I was?
But if I could
Would I?
Have I endured the torturing winds
And tormenting rains
For nothing?
Have I watched them erode my hard exterior
And expose my raw and bloody flesh
To the tempestuous elements
Just to say
“It is right,
Right to suffer so”?
No, no I will not
But stand and shout
At my new found strength
Swept clean by those who seek to hurt
And once more return
Return to this suburbia
Unlike those around
In their safe suburban lives
A newcomer
Returning to my fathers’ land
To these
Suburban walls, suburban gardens,
Suburban bricks

13/07/1990

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Passing By

How many years have these stones
Here stood?
Mute watchers of hurrying seasons
Here where once lived voices
‘Neath turf and heather roofed
Lie now open to storms hungry soul
Windows where eyes once gazed
On walls and ferns and burn below
Now lie open to the clouds
Like needle eye unthread
All is silent now
Except for winds harsh howl
Garden grazed by black faced sheep
Lichen grows on fireplace
Where peat a family kept warm
All is cold now
Untended
Unheeded
As I walk on

18/09/1998

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For You

The radio plays
Gently in the background
Of my life.
The light throws dim shadows
Onto the dreary walls
Of my room.
It is so cold here now
Without you.
You have left an emptiness
That nothing fills.
An icy silence
Of nothing heard
Except my breathing
Harsh and halting.
The hours are long,
Time creeps past.
The hands of the clock
On the wall
Are resistant
To my will,
They are persistent
In their motionlessness.
I fill my life with boredom
And remembrances.
I warm my spiritless heart
With tales of happier days
And wait in frighted hope.
For you.

12/07/1990

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A life reborn (Some thoughts at Tushielaw)

Eagles cry, eagles haunt
Above moorland
Of grouse
And heather
And life
Myriad sheep trod paths
Lead me deeper
Into this delightful, deceptive freedom
On the edge
Of my existence
Fresh, cold, sharp winds
Buffet me
And roar
Deep gullies
In my soul
Cutting deep
They wound
And cleanse
And drive cobwebs
Long grown
From my being
And once again
I am me
And I am free

18/09/1998

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She sits there opposite me

She sits there opposite me
In that old chair of hers
Knitting those strange shapes she made
Toys, animals, useful things
So many – I have some still
In some forgotten corner of my life

She sits there opposite me
Wrapped against the cold
Her breathing sometimes shallow
Sometimes laboured, sometimes still
So far, so very far
From my youth remembered time

She sits there opposite me
So frail and grey and worn
Her vibrant life reduced, debased, displaced
By depression, despair and pain
And saddened we
Sit with her and we cry

She sits no longer where
So staunchly once she did
Her one warm chair now empty stands
Soundless like a vault
And poorer now we live
With remembrance of a once great life

29/11/2009

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Heat Haze

Beneath a sky cast sapphire blue
By a stand of lonely blue gum trees
Some cattle gather shaded from incessant heat
Still they stand, panting statues
Except for ears flicking flies away
Across the red dust dry veld
A dust devil whirls tall
Past shimmering, stuttering skull white houses
Hurling papers and bits
In an impotent rage against the hot hard ground
From the distance the sound of a tractor ploughing
Deep furrows in a deeper landscape
For mealies
Or sorghum
I sit out on the stoep this African afternoon
And view, through pipe smoke haze
The distant koppies and blood red ground
Of a Western Transvaal
Held in heats oppressive grip
I drink my fill
Of homemade pineapple beer
Chilled in a glass filled with ice
And gaze serenely on this placid place
Unable to move or think or talk
Wet with sweat my clothes cling
To a glistened body tanned brown
By sun and wind and work
But not today

22/04/1998

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