The terrible consequences
Of war go on.
Corpse after corpse
Arrives home,
Flag-draped and honoured.
Lives ended or amputated.
Medals pinned and pictures framed.
A gallery of disguises,
Masking the blasted bones
And terminated blood
Of those who fight.

… and in the morning

The injured soldier
Stared out of the TV.
Sweet, blond and clean.
Cap and badges bright,
On the breakfast sofa.
No blood to be seen.
His passive resignation
Made a telling stillness.
Uniform freshly pressed,
Folded neatly over
His three new stumps.
Left, right, left.
What’s left?
Only one arm,
One eye and
The courage to die.
His massive reduction
Moves us to cry,
Why, why, why?
Our boiling anger pumps.
Is he our hero
Or our fool,
Our folly
Or our tool?

LEST WE FORGET                                    © Will Barton 2011

MEMORY (for Libya)

The long
Creaking memory
Of the world
Will contain
A pox
A madness
A devil strain
A germ rejected
By the sane
An evil rust
No map or record
Wants to retain
But it must
This gross bacteria
Defiantly projected
Into the library
Of vile histories
Will seep and stink
Where cold academia
With disinfected ink
Will try to decode
Its mysteries
The long
Leaking memory
Of the world
Will cry               © Will Barton 2011


Honour and respect to Libya.
For all that you have given I salute you.
For all that you have endured I admire you.
Your freedom is the reward for many million lifetimes of suffering, sacrifice and faith.
These are days of joy, remembrance of lives lost and a new self-determination.
Make your country honest and beautiful again.
Libyan hearts must be singing.

© Will Barton 2011


We walk in dark places, blindfolded and silent.

Unhappy in our ignorance yet unwilling to question our certainties.

Semi-detached, reality-show Britain: more interested in the next X Factor than the social agonies which surround us.

How easily we slip into judgmental condemnation of actions we don’t fully understand.

Yet it is our blinkered detachment which fuels our clichéd reactions too conveniently defined by tabloid labelling.

© Will Barton 2011