leased war

This poem is about a photo of a young child of about 10, who stares through the broken window of a shot out car. Two women were shot and died at a check point.

The sentiment is, what effect is this war having on the hearts of these young children?   And i wonder how do we stop war. When Iraq was pulverised into submission and photos kept coming in the days when I still bought newspapers, I found myself staring over and over at this photo. The women probably in full burka panicked and drove too fast near a roadblock and they were shot. Those shooting were suspicious and shot and yet two women in a car should be able to drive in their country. Then the next issue, it was not US or other soldiers but leased or hired guards so it was impossible to find anyone to blame.


leased war

in the photo
a child stares
into a blood-splattered car

in his heart . . .
what seeds are planted

what tangles and grows
in a harsh elegiac landscape
of desert sand and rubble

two women dead    the news said
Shot by hired security guards
answerable to none
they get the job done
with privatised weapons
privatised tanks   ammunition

no more mention of the child
growing up in his homeland
a privatised crucible of war

requiem for a suicide bomber

This poem is based on a true story. The wall built by Israeli goes through Palestinian  farms without  discretion and this woman who had to face the check points each day  to work on her Uncle’s farm faced this indignity, which a year later had her die in a markets, in her effort  to  kill.

Is it revenge.? Is it as a result of powerlessness. I believe terrorism is a vicious cycle and we have a lot of work to do to change this world wide way.




Palestinian workers salvage building materials near Erez Crossing at the northern border between Gaza and Israel, Beit Hanoun, February 18, 2014. A remote-controlled sniper gun is mounted on a nearby Israeli military watchtower in the border wall. Human rights organizations have documented dozens of cases of Israeli army gunfire at persons who posed no threat and were well outside the 300-meter so-called "no-go zone" imposed by the Israeli military inside Gaza's borders. In many cases, no warning was given before soldiers opened fire.




requiem for a suicide bomber

twice each day
she passes through the check point
the eye of a needle
portal of a war-torn heart
to work on the other side
the concrete wall cuts
a vandal’s knife
through her uncle’s farm

on this day
shuffling through eyes lowered
she shows her work pass

well polished black boots
feet planted squarely apart
block her way

she looks up
his eyes
malevolent intent
blinding as the light off the barrel of his gun
her fear
his turn on

he taunts
pulls her hard against his uniformed body
like an inflatable sex doll
laughs at her impotent disgust
and his power

a year later
with posture of defeat
a heavy belt around her waist
she walks into a busy market-place
her body
a weapon

desert gaol

The following poem was actually written in 2007. It was in response to a black and white photo in the SMH that captured my heart.  It said so much about the war at the time and  I was so anti the Iraq War when it began in 2003 with Bush-Blair-Howard Shock and Awe Campaign.

I included this poem in my collection as it was Highly Commended in the Gum Blossom Poetry Competition at the time.

Of course now the war that made a vacuum  in Iraq  has spread and disturbed the world and we have become  desensitised about photos like this.
desert gaol

i’m haunted by a photo scene
a makeshift desert gaol
with barbed wire as a barricade
men with bare feet
wearing simple garb white djellaba
hands tied behind their backs
over their heads plain black sacks
crowded and cowering they sit

near one a tiny child leans
toes digging into the sand
the man unable to reach out a hand
to comfort or reassure

often in my dreams
i wonder what became of them.

street madonna

The following poem was inspired by our time in Barcelona. For several days we walked in Gaudi and Picasso’s footsteps, fascinated by the birth of the cubism movement and both of us having favourite Picasso works to search for. We walked the small lanes, and cobbled roads,pass a unique Spanish Church, pass restaurents especially Els Quatre Gats taverns, the world renowned Picasso Museum, and sat sipping red wine and eating Paella on La Rambla observing the people, as our daughter Bernadine recommended.
It is surprising to me this is the poem from those days. The Roma woman sitting on the cold steps of the Church, was there for the two days I walked that way and the shock on the second day when I visited the Church, to find a baby hidden under her mantel and less cared for then the statue of the Madonna and Child inside the church . The paradox and pathos are hard to capture. I hope I have captured the moment for you.

street madonna

she was there yesterday
quiet as a fresco
sunlit olive skin eyes lowered
a shawl and joyful skirt

i felt a jolt
passed quickly by

walk picasso’s footsteps
barcelona’s gothic quarter
marvel at ancient roman walls
sip coffee in the bohemian-quarter kats
inhale the vibe of past artists writers poets

she is there again today
on the cold stone steps
near the ornately carved doors
her presence loud

I was warned
walk on
but a voice inside says
this is different

in the cathedral the rose window
plays its colours
mother and baby statue
glows in candle light

on my way out
a fumble in my heart
makes me halt
i scan her face

she looks up eyes hook me
draw me she smiles
the cup in her hand

under her mantle
a baby cradled in her lap
reaches out