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


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


There is a pointless opposition
Between action and consequence.
But to equate the two would be to commit
A negligence of calculation.
To imprison a solution
In a madness of mechanisms.
Like trying to look at stars
Through shattered prisms.
It would be an intrusion and illusion,
Splattered with delusion.
But what sadness would be left ?
Like the wives of soldiers are bereft,
When news of death
Is dressed up and presented,
Leaving them demented.
Their pride is a kind of solace
But inside they are weeping.
Emotions in safekeeping.
For another time,
In some lonely place,
Where dark and cold,
They seek the answer
To the calculation.             © Will Barton 2010


I know,
That on this beach,
There is a stone,
Which has your eyes.
I finger the shoreline,
Like it is a deckled edge.
Sifting the day’s catch,
Hoping to find you,
Watching me.           © Will Barton 2009


Love and hate,
Those smirking fiends,
Disguise their insolence
In enigmatic smiles.
They are a masterpiece
Of contorted portraiture.
Framed to flatter.
But in the mirror,
Their fawning farce,
Reflects the cracks
And fiction of the face.
It is their embrace,
With heads caressed,
Expressions hidden
In the huddle,
Of this mocking cuddle.
Which reveals,
The truly contradictory state,
Of love and hate.                         © Will Barton 2009


Quietly wounding
The tree of life.
Slash, slashing
At the trunk.
Chunk after chunk.
Bleeding the sap,
Which seeps
From the hunk.
Slitting the wrist
Which tightens and twists.
Wetting the lips,
Which bleed
As they grip.
Slutting and licking
And wanting to kick.
Finding the knife.
Then using its edge.
Cutting the brute
From the bark,
To the shoot.
Battering, beating,
Making it mute.          © Will Barton 2009