Ah, Palmyra

We care more for ancient ruins
And destruction wrought on tombs
By whatever means they may
Than for lives that end today

While the blood and flesh and bone
Leaving everything they own
To escape the latest purge
Travel desert, sea and gorge

Those who voyage only land
On their uppers, close at hand
To the help they sorely need
Yet the politicians plead

Not to have to break their word
To the xenophobic horde
Those whose votes they barely won
From the hardened right, anon

Thus with bottle-necks and fence
We corral and harry hence
Workers that we sure could use
Grateful, welcome, unabused

Skilled and keen to integrate
To prop up our ageing State
In permissive company
Knowing just who let them be

As the fight takes to the skies
And the waves fill up with lies
We would throw away resource
Inconvenient and coarse

With no tally of the cost
Nor of what support is lost
Though our leaders might feel tall
While our borders stand, we fall

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Deserted and abandoned youth

Choose certain death and ostracism
Exile self-imposed; ‘tradition’
Loss of home and family
Born of faith’s supremacy

So young, with minds not fully fed
In fear of first missteps, unled
Some seek to live by others’ rules
And hope to never have to choose

While those whose choice was thrust upon
Unwary shoulders, far too young
Have just enough experience
To recognise their own good sense

And knowing that some errors will
Occur despite intentions, still
Are less afraid to persevere
And build the life they want right here.

Though actions have their aftermath
There is no righteous, clear-cut path
Please do not fear all consequence
Change is not dangerous; though dense

And unenlightened elders may
Feel life no longer goes their way
As age and distance emphasise
The loss of youth before sad eyes

Unready to relinquish reins
To those in throes of growing pains.
Decisions to abandon trust
Give up hope and freedoms; lust

For life of lesser contemplation
Out of social obligation;
Turn to ends more violent
Ignore suggestions, kindly meant

And quick condemn all other views –
Is this the path you wish to choose?
Consider this, before you do
For truly, this choice rests with you:

Such suicide invites abuse
Of others that may follow blood
For love, for family, for feud
Will throw themselves away; – jihad

In mourning for those gone before
Their minds made waste, still immature
And more than one will idolise
The first to die – if death you prize

Above the life you hold in hand
So understand, if you have planned
To be the martyr for your tribe
And leave the others still alive

The minute you take up this course
Imagining rewards; Firdaws
You lose control of what is shown
And once you’ve gone, the whole thing’s blown:

With ashes scattered over sand
Your image will be used to brand
Misinformation into truth –
Deserted and abandoned youth.

The Peacemakers

Simple lines are drawn in sand
Before too long a raid is planned
Evading those so underhand
They would presume to claim this land

Off we sneak in battle dress
Such gentle men and ladies, less
To mop and mock the endless mess
Than blow things up, as merciless

To violence we’ve long adhered
We have become the thing we feared
And afterwards may not be cleared
Of careful killings, well prepared

Poor War has wandered far and wide
From hill to valley, mountainside
And sunk such fortunes, fear and pride
To foster thoughts of suicide

Promoting causes, long since lost
He breeds support and hides the cost
Our future terrorists to host
More pointless conflict, until most

If not quite all are lying dead
Two tribes with matching holes in head
Surrounded by twin pools of red
Both died for an ideal, it’s said

And what is left to selfless men
But legends of their struggle, gain?
We heed such calls to follow pain
Our children reach for arms again.

Numb

I am untouched by death, it seems
My brow so cool, and arid eye
No flicker at the suicide scenes
Of friend that waited, soon to die

And hastened with impatient crime
To strike a blow and choose his time.

Not I, the sobbing, shrieking wreck
That tears their clothes and hair to match
The inner maelstrom kept in check
You’d scarcely hear my voice – the catch

Unnoticed by my colleague’s grin
Unless I choose to let them in.

At reading of another act
Of violence in public space
It is not terror strikes my heart
I cannot lie to save my face

Though all around are tearing fast
I’m calm and cool – it brushes past.

On hearing tales of chemicals
That kill en-masse, so far away
Of sniping shooters winging girls
Who want to go to school today

The sum of Arab Springs and Falls
Cannot unbuild emotive walls.

I’ve known it worse, or so we say
Explosions and effects galore
I saw a film, but yesterday
I can’t be feeling any more

Of Realism, High-def blow
Paid for my ticket, saw the show.

Though broadcast pictures fill the News
I’ve seen too many other views
In my short life to be amused
By one more shot of life, abused

While Western minds are overfed
On what we’re sold, and so, misled.

What heartstrings I have left to tug
Beside ideas I fondly kept
Lie buried underneath the rug
Old fashioned views, soft-celled, inept

Far too naive to hold so late
Beyond their expiration date.

Revolution

History tells us
That coups are romantic
Tight breeches and open shirts
Flesh on display

But somehow historians
Seem to gloss over
The blood, guts and gore
Spilled as change rules the day

In marketplace, schoolroom
And under the blankets
The hard-headed, downtrodden
Protesters pray

For those seeking justice
Surrounded by forces
With too much to lose
To just give it away