Grenfell by Barbara Donne

Tell me how to impose
a structure
on
disaster

..
What nouns
verbs
rhythm, rhyme

..
I have no template
I start
and the line
breaks

..
Imagine shadows
trapped in windows
shapes
who were not cut out for this
every step of stair beneath them
falling

..
No-one expects to decline
‘We will burn…
have burnt…
are burning’

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2525 by Barbara Donne

(after Shelley)
..
I met a traveller from a lifeless land
who’d found an edifice of stone
set in the blackened sand
..
A mighty rump
feet planted on a plinth
where words, half-buried
read like all those desperate rallying calls
of warlike men
‘to keep their guns and balls’
..
But as he stared upon them
neither real nor ghostly cries
disturbed the silence of deserted skies

Aleppo by Barbara Donne

Aleppo sounds
so gentle to the tongue

unlike
distorted din
of Hell upended
falling upon drum-cracked ears
split foundations
tumbled towers

where the unbreathable dust
smothers
countless bodies
and their ripped apart hearts

when time and sands settle
how will the scattered remember?
which way home?
is somewhere terrible?
or fine?

that it begins with an in breath
exults two beats
‘till the last
syllable’s kiss is blown

Aleppo
sounds so gentle
to the tongue

Disunion Jack by Barbara Donne

once
we bled
the world,
turned
the whole map red
now
one dog’s brexit
barking
over the airwaves
claws back
reciprocal hope
but not in my name
I,
sans frontières
spill Welcome
on my mat
where the cat
sat laughing
at
strident
and vainglorious strains
to hold back
waves
when
Cnut couldn’t
where
truly
disunion jack
is hoisted with his own petard!

from ‘Nowhere To Stand’ by Barbara Donne

Sebastien was killed on the first day of the First Battle of the Somme. So were 59,999 other sons, husbands, fathers. 60,000 butchers, bakers, blacksmiths, bank clerks, farmers and fishmongers, turned into dead soldiers in the space of one day. Lay them side by side. Look from an orbiting spacecraft and you wouldn’t even see a dark patch; but looking out of the window seat as your plane descended, I know your stomach would lurch, your heart turn over. If it were possible to recover all the bodies, parts of bodies and scattered remnants of parts of bodies; how many innocent green fields would be filled? Don’t ask me. I’m not a mathematician or a statistician.

..

An excerpt from the novel Nowhere To Stand, which Barbara published in 2013.

Austerity by Barbara Donne

Austerity
flaps its flag of convenience
over the airwaves

all together
now
we’re all
in
it
is a mask
over appropriation

a grudge match
greed v need

blinded
by winking promises
of all those
shiny goods to get

deafened
by unjust prejudice
against
those dispossessed

you say Austerity’s meant to bite
but believe me
it devours
false comfort

only listen
to the dying song
of one canary

800 by Barbara Donne

it’s not just
the hand paid to wield
but the faceless chain
of supply and demand
holding the whip hand
..
business as usual
presses oiled palms
hands over arms
implements
..
cruel and unusual
punishment
merely for words
sounds
marks on paper
the freed mind of a poet
..
no need to ask
whether the pen is mightier
even though
eight hundred
sucks out my air
 brings tears to my lashes
..

After Paris by Barbara Donne

Facts are too fluid

lists too long

to be set down

forever black

or white

.. 

Yet too soon

history

devises reasons

for the unreasonable

 ..

And if poets

can’t yet recollect

in tranquillity

perhaps present time

rules poetry

unseasonable

 ..

But

if I must

make a poem now

I’ll report

.. 

How my dumb tongue

is imprisoned

in a grave mouth

.. 

and

my pen

is dry