Listening to Bach’s Passion at the Proms by Carolyn O’Connell

Sung in German, his language
one I slightly know
the anger of the mob, a people led
by men who feared loss of power
to reject an innocent man
who’d helped and taught love.

Knowledge of another’s language
culture and beliefs: brings understanding
no matter what his colour, status
or the culture, country where he flies from
or still strives to live.

If all men could learn from others
the stranger on your road
then no leader would have power
to bring men to hate or war.

There would be no enemy
no one to despise
we’d understand each other
no matter what the dress or voice
or where we live or worship
or even what we eat.

Then we’d be each other’s brothers
and sisters, forever joined in harmony.

Inferno of the Poor by Carolyn O’Connell

I remember when the space was fenced, a home for rats
a steel fenced scar cutting through the “saved” houses
and above the concrete bulk of the new urban motorway.

They built towers on the space replacing the erased homes
by sky streets, homes for the poor, without gardens
for children to play, adults relax. Some left in fear for the future.

Slowly the area changed, the skilled artisans, labouring builders
migrated home or died, the “saved” houses became “desirable”
and celebrities, bankers, politicians moved in to homes built
a century ago for aspiring families or newlyweds.

It became “Notting Hill” though the hill was far away!

Today the News has resurrected Ladbroke Grove
for the poor have been killed in Grenfiell Tower
and they can’t call this carnage “Notting Hill”!!

Media  tries to convey the horror, tears of the displaced
survivors of the inferno, searching for family lost in the night
or mourning those whose voices fell silent as flames rose

and firefighters ran into the blazing tower, climbed outside
trying to save those trapped behind hot glass, bubbling plastic
falls away – refurbishment to change the style –
but no sprinklers or stairs to save the poor

who like the people I knew, or me, are immigrants fleeing
war, drought, disease, or their children or grandchildren
of those who came before – born here but part of the global family
that is Ladbroke Grove.  They sought safety but died

and now the people give freely while politicians
come with promises, agape at their resourcefulness,
stunned by the horror they encounter, abashed, silenced

but will, when the dead have been recovered, the cameras
moved to new sensations, they build homes with gardens
solid and safe on the ground they stand for everyone????

Or will they forget, move on in inquiry, build again towers that burn,
and call this place “Notting Hill”.

Changing Scenes by Carolyn O’Connell

Once the meadows shone with colour
strings of white, blue, red &yellow,
left to flower, seed, spread, only plucked
by children’s hands . But now they quiver
on the verge, while fenced, the meadow
sprayed and mowed is bare of blossom.

While in the gardens flowers bloom
tended by the caring hands that
work and watch their efforts prosper
encouraged by passion for a flower.

Yet each season thwarts their efforts
rain falls in places far too heavy
whilst others gasp for water as streams
vanish through ever drying winters.

Hidden in the land the rigs plunder
oil and gas to feed our need,
while out at sea the remnants of our
throw away economy are ingested
by the fish we eat, and the coral’s colours
fades to deathly grey as temperatures
rises ice melts the poles. The bear
and penguin search for safe routes.

Even the jungles screech in pain
as they are plundered, the tiger
cheetah, wander slowly seeking prey
and the rocks rumble as volcanoes
spit magma to cloud the skies,

but unheeding man, the top predator
ignores the pleading of the planet,
deaf and blind to all the signs continues
to hunt for treasure, black or gold
whilst his home decays,
and crumbles.


The link to my blog is which is Carolyn O’Connell Poetry
My collection “Timelines” is published by Indigo Dreams and is available from
MY web site is poetry

Gross Domestic Product by Carolyn O’Connell

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day
shops display bargains decked to entice
feet follow the siren call and fingers tap
the dance of consumption’s cravings
for new, more, next , brighter, better.

As the tills click and the profits mount
the gnomes of the cities count the coins
charting the status of every purchase
calculating winners and losers in the race.

The gamble goes on but brings no joy
it’s an addiction of capital’s empty pride
strong as any legal high, heroin or hash;
the down is the bill at the end of the month.

But the Golden towers that glitter with pride
do not bring peace or care to the home
children loose childhood to tablets and phones
and the newest purchase quickly come old.

Would but we calculated each man’s worth
the success of a company not by the sales:
come out of this race, this addiction to buy
and cherish the people we care for and love.

No present replaces the joy of loved ones
no new bargain is worth the kiss of a child
or the smile of a women you’ve raised when you’re old
as she comes with her children to grace your age.

Whatever the name of the leader or race
whatever his party or doctrine of fate
the man who’ll achieve all his dreams of success
is the one who steps out and declines to obey.

Measures success by contentment and care,
a roof over the head, food on the table,
and warmth in the home care for the sick,
the young and the old, time for all ages
to be close and to converse he’s achieved
the true  Gross Domestic Product.

The Carpenter of Lampedusa by Carolyn O’Connell

Francesco was the creator of furniture
for farms and towns, of chairs, tables
anything sourced from wood; olive his
preferred tree scenting each slice of the plane,
chip of a chisel, shavings falling from his lathe.

Running to the beach locals saw them
struggling against the rise of the wave
heads battling for breath, arms clawing
and the orange lifebelts of the dead
blooming on the sand, scattered cracked
planks of wrecked boats they’d boarded
with hope now shattered with dreams, families.

Men strode into the storm, drew crowds
from the waves but their efforts were puny,
he saw the grief, their loss and rejection
offered his skills to solace their despair,

bending he grasped the shattered planks
and fashioned crosses from the staves
symbols of crucifixion, their loss
passing to these refugee Christians
a token of comfort, memorial of the lost,

who Europe bars with wire thorns fearful
of their darker skins, older, unknown rites
and crowns the continent with diadems
of hate like those who crowned the Galilean
carpenter and hung him on an olive cross.

Setting Act 2 Brexit by Carolyn O’Connell

Sheets marked with crosses have fell in boxes
and withered windswept in this Autumn June
for no unity has been affected, a rain of Brexit
sweeps over a hurricane of doubt, discord brew.

The hack hags muse, stir over media cauldrons
brewing for answers, quick replies; but no magic
they can muster will rebottle the genie ink
that marked the crosses on the ballots
swirled us into the empty centre of the storm.

Breathless we wait while others call “Attention”
plan their futures behind the scene of our distress
as Jacobite Johnson waits for the rebellion and
Nigel, silent, held the bridle, lest the horses bolt
until Gove knocked him from his horse usurping
his ambition to be the new General, Nigel dropped the rein.

Across the ditch that was England’s primal protection
the victims of hate’s conflicts line up and ponder
when they can breach the rampart of the French;
walk through the tunnel we’ve created to Dover
reach their dreams, goals and journey’s end.

Now the scene’s set north for “Aulde Alliance”,
the Erin Gaelic rise in Ireland loughs, their
young wait to melt the ice of prejudice, (Unite)
for their lips have tasted meads of freedoms.
Now London’s towers shiver, quaking below
black suited George calls “raise England’s standard”
rally the timid market’s troops to hold the line.

Dousing Steel’s Flames by Carolyn O’Connell

Flames that lit the skies over towns
for years – the beacons viewed from
railroads, ships motorways are due
to dim, snuffed out by edict from
unskilled, unaware hands,

flames that mark towns where
bright steel sings its song of skill
in oratorios with notes fine as cutlery,
deep as the Shard’s supporting girders
sweet as the tracks the train I recall.

It built the planes, tanks, ships that
kept us safe from enemies’; icons
of our past whose children still protect
us from unknown terrors still,
and hide within structures speeding light.

Now these towns and men who know
no other way of life will dim as the flames
are damped, the men close the last gate,
and we are left to feed on fickle money
guard our shores with cypher gilts
and handshakes while others laugh

as we build, sell at their decree
at the folly of the dying flames,
men who sold our skills for fame
cyber gilts and Starbucks.

Horseman of Destruction by Carolyn O’Connell

These Janniseries have up-ended their cauldron”s
broken their contract with Islam
sided with Staten rides in his army
beside the angels, fallen from light.

Hung with explosives, brandishing automatics
they slide into unsuspecting cities
cutting down innocent people unminfull
of their race, religion, sex or race,

sitting in cafes,shopping , watching football
or inside venues listening to music;
young or old, rich or poor nobody is spared.

While they glory in violation of cities
culture, women and. children
creating rubble, refugees flying from them

to countries and cities we know and. love.
These Janniseries follow preaching their fables
to callow boys seeking adventure
they fall for the story .

Donning their rament they aspire glory
killing the children of innocent people
Parisians, Spanish, English it doesn’t matter
what their race, religion age , sex or ethnicity

Above us all Allah, God, uncaring of. titles


Memories of Sousse by Carolyn O’Connell

As we arrived he welcomed us
offering orange juice and dates
to refresh us after the journey
and every time we passed
would ensure we had all
we needed. We would walk on
a harbour, lined with fishing boats,
and sit in cafes drinking coffee
as the heat rose and sand crept
in on the wind.  We’d swim in the pool
and at night walk in the square
where fountains danced to changing colours.
A boy sold me a pedant, an old man
offered carpets.

Two girls sat with us on a bus
and we chatted over coffee,
one wanted to be a doctor, the other
dreamed of going to Oxford.
The driver guided us round Carthage
knew the history of every stone.
We chatted to a couple from Bagdad
outside the mosque, swapped stories.

We would walk round the garden
to the sound of music wafting from the piano
bar where businessmen brought quiet wives
to eat sweet cake with dark coffee at 8.

All of them were just like us trying to
earn a living for families, had dreams
of success for their children.

I wonder what has become of them
since that peaceful April all has changed
the sand is stained with hate,
the blood of other ordinary people
who dreamed the same dreams.

Elegy to Migrant Mother by Carolyn O’Connell

Growing up in days of conflict
you chose love across the divide,
defying custom, convention and
family allegiance, duties of a daughter.

Escaping to the enemy’s land
doors slammed in your face and
windows waved messages of hate
as you scrubbed strangers’ floors to survive,
mourning an un-suckled child.

Your Romeo rejected his father
accepting exclusion and followed
to find you in enemy territory,
safety in the land of rejection.

When war racked your new land
he fought with new comrades against
an enemy who sought to enslave again.

When peace returned together you
quietly built a new family, bridged the
divide between remnants of the old, and

visited the graves of parents, the homes
of long missed friends where old joys were
remembered, relived. You held your head
high as you walked the streets.

But you would never return to that land
your fate a migrant woman who keeps
secrets safe, silent about the voyage of the past.

Carolyn O’Connell lives in South London. She works with Richmond Libraries to promote poetry and has lead workshops. Her work has been published in Romania and America and her collection Timelines, is published by Indigo Dreams (2014, ISBN 978-1-9093575-3-2) and is also available at Ham House National Trust Bookshop

News Child by Carolyn O’Connell

Child of war flickering across my mind
you have no nation, no colour, and no home.
Your empty eyes, tangled limbs
lie among the empty shells,
lit by unyielding flashes
intruding helpless on your pain.

Life tracks from your wrenched body
moon-scarred by famine’s caustic whip,
your mind decanted by others wiles.
We stand apart afraid to offer comfort.
Reluctant to remember or forget
lest you infect us with a violet spore,

Causing our men to die, our children starve
absolved by aid.

Could we be bold, give you family
bind ourselves your wounds,
share ourselves our bread,
hope would bring peace
your rebirth a child of love.

First published in The Poet Tree 2002

Love is by Carolyn O’Connell

Love is quiet
breathing gasps of lovers
passion spent.

Love is gentle
with arms outstretched to comfort those
whom life breaks.

Love is kind
it eases hurt with a smile
lest damage break the glass of life.

Love is true
caring for the loved before itself
silent lest the planets halt.

Carolyn O’Connell works with Richmond Libraries to promote poetry and has lead workshops, hosted at The Tea Box in Richmond and been a Guest Read at Rhythm & Muse. 
Having worked on the poetry pRO project her poems have been translated into Romanian and broadcast on Romania radio via the Translation Café of the University of Bucharest. 
Her work has been published in America where she has collaborated with the author/poet Paul Morabito in the production of Mirrored Voices: Emerging Poets Anthology (ISBN13: 978-1-5077107-1-5) published by Star Investment Strategies LLC which seeks to promote unrecognised poets from accros the world. The first edition was published in January 2015 and is available both as print and e-book. 
Her first collection, Timelines, is published by Indigo Dreams (2014, ISBN 978-1-9093575-3-2) and is also available at Ham House National Trust Bookshop

Decisions by Carolyn O’connell

How many will listen
that’s the question
as Paxton grills Politicians
on their progress and promises?

The Beeb questions
Will the P. M. be present,
frit or frantic is debated
updated on bulletins?

I’m bored already
rather than listening
to sniping and promises
can’t they keep silent
just get on with the job

do. what their paid for
and govern wisely
making life pleasant
stop the sniping, pre-judging
quietly sort out the problems

we’re NOT stupid
by their actions we’ll judge them.

Answering The Challenge by Carolyn O’Connell

Thrown by a withered hand
a slick of hate pollutes the world
its net enslaves the innocent
rape, death and silence is its goal.

The face belonging to the hand
remains hidden while the young die,
seduced by promises of eternal life
their bodies wrecked by hate’s shrapnel.

This Ebola of the mind corrupts – its spores
reshaping faith, culture to its cause;
rejecting those who give their all
to bring health, happiness, joy and empathy.

Fighting for an omnipotent Creator,
who needs no maniac’s defence
and holy men who sleep in peace;
seduced by hate they crave love.

Love is the boom to throw upon
the writhing sea-storm; it catches
the slick. Roll in the net, repair
and clean with prayer and love.