I try, in my
poetry, to communicate to other people exactly what I mean. This is very
difficult (whereas it's not difficult at all to be obscure or to mean
various things to different people). It follows that the poems are,
hopefully, clear and direct and that they should make an immediate
impact. It follows, also, that my poetry is meant, preferably, to
be read out to an audience who have a chance to express their
reactions. I think poetry can serve a purpose and I hope I can give the
world a little nudge, at least, in a progressive direction.
Information below) See
also Home page
fell, the inscriptions say,
lost their lives.
tend to lose things
does seem a bit careless.
gave their lives, we're told,
was certainly generous,
perhaps, to a fault.
even made the supreme sacrifice,
others assure us,
would never think,
reading these memorials,
anybody desperately wanted to live,
THE USE OF RELIGION
says, Love thy neighbour
says, Beggar your neighbour
politicians still worship God,
He forgives them, you see.
OF THE INNOCENTS
Says crusader Bush to the Reverend Blair
How many kids have we killed this year?
Says the pious Blair to the godly Bush,
In blood we're awash and I trust in prayer
I've lost count of how many
but the Lord keeps the score.
(to be asked of the willing tools of the warmongers)
Do you sing to your leader's tune?
do you steady the 'new' labour ship?
do you yap for a lap-dog's career?
do you dance to a three-line whip?
Who just does research in chemistry?
who only assembles a shell?
who keeps the conveyor-belt running?
who makes the death, others sell?
Who makes anthrax, napalm and gas?
who builds the bomber, who builds the sub?
who does a job like you or me?
who likes his pint in the pub?
Do you loll on the Costa Brava?
do you bathe in the Aegean Sea?
when you pause from making shackles,
do you like to think that you're free?
Who just types out the invoice
who just sends off the bill?
who just manages the firm's accounts?
who just - follows the drill?
(but isn't there, at the kill).
Who builds the base and the air-strip?
who makes the concrete and razor-wire?
who builds the bunkers (to protect our leaders
- while we all burn, in the fire)?
Who delivers the freight to the base
who just pilots a plane?
who jabs a button, up in the sky
(but never sees blood, or pain)?
who was it tore the arms off Ali lsmail
and killed his brother, his mam and his dad?
Who lavishes upon him their charity now?
who says they feel sorry for the lad?
How much do they pay you, not to think,
for obeying, like a robot, their commands?
what are you doing, slaughtering for oil
that lies under Iraqi sands?
Do you say, you're just doing your duty?
did you only just 'take out' some wog?
were you only just carrying out orders?
are you just a well-trained dog?
Did you choose to kill, for a career?
was it better than drawing the dole?
how much blood have you got on your hands?
much blood on your soul?
What made you sell your consciences, boys?
and dance to the generals' tune?
Don't tell us you're just doing a job,
as you murder some mother's son - our boys -
as you murder somebody else's son.
Who just parrots the generals' stories?
who just writes what they're told to say?
who's always in bed with the biggest army?
who peddles lies, for pay?
Who shows war, sanitized, on the telly?
who puts the spin on the nation's news?
who doctors the film the camera crews take?
who rigs all the interviews?
Who laps up the lies of the gutter-press?
who never thinks to question why?
who's glad the butchery is somewhere else
it's only foreign children who die?
All you who serve the warmongers' ends,
without you, no atrocity could ever be done.
You are the accessaries, abettors and
and you are guilty, every one,
you are guilty, every one.
THE PARENTS OF BRITISH SOLDIERS KILLED IN IRAQ
can be excused. from being a human being?' James
Kelman, Scottish novelist
didn't want your sons to die, nor to kill.
Tell me, how did it happen?
Did they think they were defending their country?
Which bits, in particular, belong to them, would you say?
Maybe, they were defending somebody else's country, then.
Whose, did they think?
Did they think joining up was better than the dole?
But - did they think - murdering people was better than the dole?
Didn't they know, soldiers kill people?
Did they think they were joining up to learn a job or to travel?
Well, they learnt the job of murder
and they travelled to somebody else's country,
occupied it and killed people who lived there,
who'd posed no harm to them whatsoever.
(We wouldn't like it if some other country did that in Britain, would
Did they think they had a right to sell their consciences?
they think they could be excused from being human?
Did they think? Did they think?
I would feel more kindly towards you
if you had stopped your children from enlisting
or, if you had protested while they were murdering other
That was all right, so it seemed.
I didn't hear any protests from you, then.
It was only all wrong, so it seemed,
other parents' children killed yours.
Did your sons think an Iraqi life wasn't worth as much as a
An Iraqi tear is very much like a British tear,
warm and salt - like your tears.
You couldn't tell the difference.
Iraqi blood is very much like British blood,
warm and red - like your sons' blood.
You couldn't tell the difference.
The grief of a bereaved Iraqi parent is like yours.
children, however, were the aggressors,
their own choice and free will.
The Iraqis had no choice but to defend themselves.
This is where the difference lies.
Don't you think? Do you think?
I cannot extend my sympathy to you.