fromelles 2009

A battle in WW1  19th July 1916.

In 2009 – mass graves began to be exhumed, remains being identified and laid to rest with honour: it brings to the fore once again a story of the worst 24 hours in Australian history, july 19th 1916.

5,533 Australian casualties in one night and with no ground taken.


fromelles 2009
in no mans land !
stories shout
from mass graves

hell-trap stories
gallant stories
fear-filled stories

failure crawls
through fire
mud barbed wire
piteous writhing mates
drainage ditches
no respite

blinkers of youth
lure of adventure

an emotional cry
will you not fight for land your fathers died for !
and wars roll on
deafened with enterprise

now i ask how can cycles have an end

Colleen Keating from A Call to Listen

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

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.