Three men by Rob Cullen

I will not use your name
I listened when you spoke for so many
You were a child in Auschwitz-Birkenau
You spoke of how you survived
Brief references
No details
You spoke of your grief
The overwhelming feeling of numbness
To the brutality
The realisation that death was imminent
Every second minute every day
Because you were a Jew
The tattooed numbers remained
You became a psychologist
You taught me how to reach
The young who felt lost.

You have no name
I knew it once
I worked with you in a steelworks
I didn’t understand your accent
Your way of speaking
You explained you were a child in Birkenau
Taken there from Belgium
After telling me of your life
A day or so later you disappeared
No reasons were given or left.

You were an old quiet man
I sat with talking over quiet pints
Stanislaus your father was a baker
And you delivered bread to the SS
And smuggled what you could
To the Jews facing the risk
On discovery of certain death
After liberation the communists took over
And you fled to make a home in this country
Late in your life you were honoured
By Poland for your heroism
Your humbleness weighing each word
“What choice do you have
You can’t do nothing
So many did they have to live with themselves
And the choices they made”
Once for a year you pretended
To be my father
So that we could have free coal
When we had no money coming in
You died a decade ago
I honour you and our quiet talks still.

That generation of men by Rob Cullen

How long did I work with people who were abused?
Thirty eight years of my life
but always meeting that resistance 
of silence and absolute denial by that generation of men.

Thirty eight years trying to get through a wall
of silence, of intolerance,
it seems ridiculous to me now the ends they’d go
to avoid listening or do anything.

I was known in the United States
my boss shut his door refusing to answer his phone
he was out or in a meeting his secretary said
when I could see his car outside my window.

That generation of men who believed children
asked for it in some way
or thought the abusers of children were right,
it didn’t do the child harm after all they’re still breathing still alive.

Thirty eight years of listening
and now I worry that nothings really changed
another generation of men
are not talking about what they really think.

Coronation Day 2nd June 1953 by Rob Cullen

From the bench on the street corner one legged Jack sits watching the scene
pennants and bunting draped ready for celebrations the throning of a queen.

Jailed for killing a sheep to feed half-starved kids in the far away depression days
Jack remembered the struggle to survive and the children dying in those ways.

On the tree lined flowering street the white haired boy tried and failed always
when the showering confetti of petals eventually made it their time to fall too.

Red white and pink spring colours in a time of khaki, navy blue, and greys
the white haired boy walked kicking along the stony road a blue tin zinc ball

Battered and dented dull on each of its three sides from so many tries
to make it fly it was in those days with long hours they called peace.

Thundering and lightning crackled without warning in clear blue skies
the silenced old gods and wise men left only indentations, remembrances

Of psalms and words in the places they’d once stood in so many guises.
In the tall aspen trees above the school yard Jackdaws turned into blackness

No longer offering advice to the boy standing in silence on a stone edged street.
He wandered listening to hammering hard voices in those endless days of friction.

It was a time of remembrances of yearning for memories, idylls and those years
before the great fracturing, when men stared too long into the crematoria’s fire.

Of the man-made hell when God looked away from supplications, turned deaf ears
to the prayers of beseechment from the lost, the implorations for intervention

For salvation. And only silence reigned. The old Kings head stared one eyed
on silver sixpences and farthings but he was dead and the Christmas tree lights

Fixed to the windows and doorways ready for the street party rationing allowed.
And all those old songs knees up mother brown, oh knees up mother brown,

They pushed the damper in and they pulled the damper out and the smoke went up
She’ll be coming round the mountain will be sung again and sung again and echoing.

It was a time of remembering past times, it was a time for forgetting times too,
there was hope for the future, for a better life so many had fought and died for.

But spin the gaudy worn tin carousel sixty four years or more forward and see
a future of food banks feeding working poor kids in the mean high streets of ghost towns

Where charity shops fill every other door and the worn out junkies haunt the parade
and we turn our backs too as so many lives are stolen away before our very eyes.

So our class celebrates the crowning of a queen and our impoverishment
relinquishing without understanding what life and poverty was like in those days.

These days.

My names Jack. What’s yours?

The Examination of Time and its Many Modes by Rob Cullen

We are the explorers
Of time.
In which
Our watchfulness
Reveals
A revelation
An awareness
Of life’s turning wheel.
We the silent sentinels
Examine time
Embracing
The glue that alloys
That anneals and binds
The eternal tick
Hum and thrum
Of the Atomic.
Oblivious to the inhalation
And exhalation of breath
We breathe
A measurement of time.
And dream itself
Three thirty
In the darkness
A stop time
In slow time
When nightmares wake
And temperatures drop
A degree or two
And old people’s
Grip on time
Is loosed,
Loosened
They leave
And are left.
Goodbye.
Slow time.
Stop time.
Time to wake
Time to go
Slow time
Stop time.
One day I found
Myself wearing
Two watches
I am unaware when
I strapped them on
There is a third
Too delicate to be worn
The Gold watch
Given to an old man
On finishing
Stop time.

The first watch
measures
Now time.
Fast time.
The second
Measures
Get it got it.
Measures
Slow time
Stop time
Looking at it
May make
You decide
It’s broken
Stopped not working
But it works
Measuring
Very slow time
Stop time
Another time
Known only to us
Known only to you
Postponed Time
Since the Disaster
Slow time stop time
Known to those
Whose alarm
Wakes them
Stops them
From healing
Stops our sleep
Brings it to a grinding
Halt! Halt! Halt!
With a scream
A shout
A cry for help
Let me go.
Let me go.
A cry. A cry
To start time.
And so the saying goes
There is a time
And a place
For everything
But which time
Is not specified
Time heals
Time will tell
What goes around
Comes around
And on and on it goes
The vagaries
Of our understanding
Of time abounds.
Times up!
There is no more time.
I have no time for you.
I have no more time for you.
I couldn’t give him
The time of day.
Did you keep time
For me?
Where did you keep it?
Was it on your
Person?
On your body?
A pocket?
A locket perhaps?
Locked up
Somewhere.
Time to get away.
How did it get away.
Did you lose it?
Did you give it away?
I have no time
For you.
Slow time.
Fast time
Reaches
And seeps away.
While we were
Not looking
We, I didn’t look.
Carelessly
It seems
We
Lose track
Of time.
The sands
Of time
Are running out.
Running again
Sand.
Don’t get me
Started.
Oh well
Sand
Running slow
Sand running fast.
Sand running
To a stop.
Sand stopped running.
Sand is running
Out where.
Enough is enough.
Time to go.

Time redefined

And now?
Am I marooned here?
You told me to go
go go go go go
when you decided
that it was done
that you were done
with me.
But I have been left here
somehow
then now
now then
time stands still
for some things
trapped in this silence
now and then
a fracturing of time
Fractured?
Torn?
Shredded?
Ripped?
Sheered?
I struggle
for words.
It’s not true
that time heals
it simply
loses pain
I am like a bell
that has not chimed true
for so long
but I am not silent
only in quietness
will you hear
the deep vibration
of my calm.
I can’t make
Up for lost time
Making up
For lost time
What time?
Who’s time?
A clock,
Clocka
Clagan
Or Clocc
A silent
Instrument
Missing a bell
Is called
A Time piece.
I clock you
You you you you
You. And you!
I refuse to be
Defined by you
By what you, you, you,
You. And you
Did to me.
I am the man
The man I am
But it doesn’t
Define me.
You will not
Define me.
My anger
About what you did
You you you
You. And you.
Does not define
Me and my life
It is you see
Only a small
Part of what I call me
A small part
Of who I am
Now.
This is my time
My space
And I decide.

Time

I hear your laughter still
I was five
I was a child
I knew you
I did not know you
I hear your laughter still
I was five
You will not go.
As incoherent
As the rattle
Of an empty plate
The image of a bell
Of an empty tea cup
Turned upside down
Chimes intertwine
Merging for reasons
That are maybe sublime
In their incoherence
A bell chimes
Making time
An upturned cup
Signs no more
I am empty
I am full.

Lament for the girl of the Morning Sea by Rob Cullen

A premonition of merciful peace has emerged
In the morning of this day.

And as if in agreement
Your hand opens to the waves.
In a movement of gratitude,
A moment of quiet acceptance.
I have heard you sing
To the waves crests,
Rise, rise from your depths
Rid me of all pain
I am alone wash over me.

In this bright early hour
You are at once transformed.
Peace adorns you,
Rests on your face.
I have seen you whisper
To the open sky
Touch me, cleanse me
Rid me of all fear.
I am alone wash over me.

Your hair hangs tangled
Stiffly on your eyes,
Green-water droplets
Trickle to your lips.
Your fingers grasp
The waters edge.
The shoreline pierces you,
Welcomes you, calls to you.
I am alone wash over me.

And you lying unseen
A curved silken spine
Broken by spite
The savagery of indifference
And the brutality
Of unmourned death
Move without moving.
Knowing nothing, knowing nothing
In your quiet sadness.
I am alone wash over me.

I have heard you sing
To the waves crests’
Rise from your depths
Rise from your submerged stillness.
I have heard you sing
To the open sky,
Touch me, cleanse me,
Rid me of all pain,
Rid me of all fear.
I am alone wash over me.

Your mother cries for you in her silence
And mourns for another in her isolation.
I am alone wash over me.

This Place by Rob Cullen

This place seems like a skeleton now
Bones of an ossified stone fossil giant
Bones left exposed eroded of meaning
Everywhere I look there are remnants.

Fragments of what was here before
And memories of people’s stories told
Echo through the land. Those stories
Told and told again not knowing the reason.

Stories handed down, stories handed on
I was a small child then and so young
Painful to know that the stories once told
Are no longer whispered only that silence.

And that I am the bearer, the holder
Of stories of this place and its people,
Of the memories of people, their names,
Of what happened to them on that day.

Where they came from, what came before
I listen to the emptiness to the silence
Of the tides of so many days, over years
Over ages on ages, and those memories.

Of stories chiming like muffled cracked bells
Of lost chapels and those pointed steepled
Churches hidden by endless waves of sand
Waves of shifting toiling seas and oceans.

Raging seas where there are no seas now
But the yellowed dulled sands surround
In the pennant grey stoned terraced streets
Built from sands of layered ancient strands.

Seven thousand men embroiled in the coil
Of the straggled four legged pithead gear
Seven thousand men above and far below
Invisible strong women worked the brick ovens.

The black faced miner sits at an opened door
A wire bound chopped stick block at his feet
He watches children play in quiet streets
And waits for the long tin bath to be filled.

The clip clop clip of the pop shed girls
Walking at dawn in clogs to their work
The horse carts of coal, milk and bread
The telegram boy bringing bad news again.

Our people were migrants one and all
Travelling to dig the coal and make the rich richer
The rich left us without a penny or a stick
Just the ruins, the bones and those memories.

But we made a richness of our lives too
Artists colouring out the black and blue
Those actors Baker, the Houston brothers
Sounds of hymns, bread of heaven choirs.

The spark of vitality and vibrancy
A response to adversity and hardship
A kind of craziness, a larger than life
Way of coping with unremitting harshness.

And those memories, the myths of our people
Stories of who they were, their names
The endless warnings always foretold
Of loss, sudden deaths and disasters.

The sight of a Robin in the pit below
The foretelling of death. Who knows of this now?
Or the silent welcoming gathering of cats
At the closed curtain of a front room.

Where an ailing soul lies quietly waiting
For that cold time of the wolf’s call
When silence soothes and they are taken
Loosening the grasp that held them to this life.

That time, that echoing hour between two
And three when coldness eases sorrow
And here now then in a time with a past
That has lost meaning ghosts stand.

Forgotten your snap box don’t go back
To fetch it, don’t be late so that someone
Takes your place and is killed in the space
That you and only you should have filled.

Remember the blond boy setting fire
To the Picturedrome on the Square
Caught hiding in the loft of the Granary
And taken away never to be seen again.

And the stables where blank eyed pit ponies
Were brought to heal and recover in the sun
And the smell of light green meadow hay
And the stench of straw steaming manure.

Or that doorway pierced by the bayonet
Of one of Churchill’s steel eyed troops
Taking exception to old Mrs May gathering
Milk bottles from her scraped slate doorstep.

Or Nancy Boy Lewis’s corner grocery store
Ex copper six foot six polished size six shoes
Who’d short change you with a toothy smile
So you’d learn again to count your change.

And poor Mansell taking up his station
Directing the slow traffic at the junction
Where the busses stopped on the Square
And after too many accidents taken away too.

And old “Digger Young” who gathered
Small coal from the spoil of the tips
And his fight with the dead at the door
From such stories legends are made.

And Mr Christmas the foundling child
Left Christmas day at the Workhouse gate
He lived worked and died in the Hospital
In the same place he’d been found.

The sprawling brawling drunken fights
After the Dog and Muff closed its doors
On a Saturday night. Men fighting over
Who’d said what about the other’s girlfriend.

And who was caught with another boy’s
Girlfriend behind Lloyd the Milk’s stables
Women rolling round pulling lumps of hair
All over Johnny. Somethings are timeless.

Have we become aimlessly weakened?
Green stemmed saplings unable to withstand
The cold snap of the hardest ice age
And the frost cold blades of austerity.

Or are we distracted by the green glow
Of the constant in hand mobile screen?
By celebrities endless preening for the prize
Of a mind numbing dumbing mediocrity?

And that constant quiet seeping away
Of the young who will never return
We raise swallows that never fly back
It is the blight that has afflicted this place.

Do these memories have any relevance?
Should they be left to fall like Autumn leaves?
Have they anything to teach the present?
Or best forgotten, best left to wither away.

I look at this place with open eyes
Rose tinted glass thrown aside long ago
Huge hearts and giant souls wrestled here
But these days who stands now in their shoes?

Past giants choose to stand in silence
Quietly without sound observing
A present that has nothing to say
That is filled with its own emptiness.
But what is the present without a future?
And what is the future without a past?

And in this time of uncertainty
I ask the same questions again
Who speaks for me and mine?
Who sings the authentic song?
Who speaks for me and mine?
Where are our poets and heroes now?

Uncertain times by Rob Cullen

Written in 1982 on occasion of the miners’ strike.

I see only forgotten men
Living in places
With once famous names.
I hear only words
Of tales and deeds
Of days of men and women
Long since forgotten
Long since dead.

And in these times of uncertainty
People live surrounded
By purposeless decline
A landscape of waste
And those twisted lines
Of once white shone steel
Polished by the unceasing grind
Of the turning wheel
Now lie hidden by elder.
And gathering the dirt brown stain
Of rust and disuse
Map out the death struggle
Of this dark place
And in this uncertainty people live.

Writhing in its decay
Its history ensnares
the withering and hopeless present.
But its people refuse to cry out.
Anger has been replaced
By that silence of regret
That pitiless lament
Of resignation and acceptance.
Some say it is our age
As if we were born in other times
And others days
Or as if this turmoil
And unceasing uncertainty
Was not of our own making.

It has taken one hundred years
To silence and to forget
And to carve away with such precision.
One hundred long hard years
To isolate those memories
To purge our dreams
And cut with all the accuracy
Of liquid golden steel
The misery of generations
The torments of our people
Of the years of our childhood
And before.
We can do nothing
We can say nothing
We are not listened to.

This is the song of our people
We suffer we suffer
We have cried too much
We have cried too long
And we have become lost.
But do not stir us
For we are dark dogs
We are shadow dogs
We sleep in motionless terror.
Do not speak to our hearts
Of indignities of suffering.
Do not kindle our hatred.
Do not evoke words to spur
Our slumbering emotions.
We sleep we sleep.

In Silence

That strange silence
When did it first occur?
Were there no witnesses?
Did no one see its coming?
Had it been something gradual?
Something that had begun
Without our knowing.
Or with that abruptness
That quickness of the blade
That cuts and severs
And life without knowing
Without recognising its own going
Seeps silently away.

That strange silence
When did it first occur?
Were our eyes turned away?
Our intelligence caught
By other curious happenings.
Was it that? Simply
A distraction of sorts.
Or was it something
That we secretly welcomed?
And now if there are regrets
It’s too late, much too late.
All that has been is no longer
All that may have been
Is now silent and forgotten.

Who will remember?
Or will it become
A few pages here and there
Of names and muttered words?
Some faint remembrances?
That strange vision
Of people blackened
Standing in cobbled streets
Faces turned towards camera
Their eyes watching
Looking but seeing nothing.
And we see nothing of them.
Their world our past
A fleeting glance caught
On the papers gloss
And in this hour I ask
Is that all that remains?
That strange silence.

Of words and truth.

Like grasses bundled
And withered in storm
We are blown helplessly
And not a word is spoken.
Who sings the authentic song?
Who speaks the words of truth?
Who stands for me and mine?
Who looks at what we see?
Who hears what we hear?
Who breathes the air we breathe?
Who sees what is right and wrong?
Who speaks for me and mine?
Who sings the authentic song?
Where are our heroes and poets now?

On Lies and Lies by Rob Cullen

A lie
Told
Never
To be withheld
A lie
So devastating
Lives changed
In ways
No person
Could anticipate
Expect
Or rationalise.

He prayed
To god
That one
His one
But over
Many years
Never
Receiving
An answer
He presumed
He was Jesus.
On the cross
Jesus
Cried aloud
“My God – Father
My God – Father
Why hast you
Forsaken me?”
And so war
Is waged
In the name
Of a father
Who remains
Silent
Impassive even
And the people ask
Father
Why allow
Such cruelty
If we are
True believers?
And the reply?
Silence.
Listen
To the “wise” men
Insist
God
Is on our side
Ordering
Young men
To destroy
In the name
Of the righteous.
Pitifully
It’s the same
On the other sides
“Wise” men
Order the young
To kill
In the name
Of a silent
God
The same god
Our father.
The old
Talk
To the young
Father
Son
Holy ghost
Silence
A Buddhist
Priest spoke to me
About standing
In Auschwitz
Overcome
By the reality
Of Man’s ability
To justify.
It’s juxtaposition
A belief
In irrationality
To justify
Inhumanity
Or is this
The fantasy
That we are somehow
Rationale beings?

As a species
Our father
Our God
Remains
Silent
Forever
We look
We search
For signs.
Silence
We look
We search
For signs
Silence
And still
You ask
Why does
Our Father
Ein Tad
Yahweh
God
Let such
Bad things
Happen?
Silence.
We look
For signs
We are rationale
There must be
Signs.

So now
The wise men
Do not mention
Our father
Our God
They speak
Of the rightness
Of the need
To assist
To help
To prevent
But not God.
War is
A necessity
To protect us
From the threat
God
Silence
Priests
The “wise”
Silent.
They walk
In their processions
To celebrate
The lives taken
The lives lost
And the slaughter
But the devastation
Of lives
Silence.
The loss
Of Love
The grieving
Of a life
Through
A life
Silence.
And so
The prayers
Are mouthed
The words
Of the hymnal
Sung aloud
And
Father
Our father
Is silent
Its rationale
To believe
In the irrational
The Emperor
Has no clothes.
Irrational
It does not
Apply.
You must believe
In the silence
of the invisible
Of the Father
Who cares
But
Doesn’t care
It’s irrational
To be rationale
Pray
Silence
Are we all
Gods?
Is God dead?
Silence.

Memories of Vigils by Rob Cullen

Listening to Rachmaninov’s Vespers at Christmas

brought you back into my thoughts from those days

You were fifteen and expecting your first child.

 

And you were too frightened to fall asleep

So I sat up with you and whiled away the night hours,

Playing cards and telling you those old stories.

 

Night after night from December through to March

Of what it was like to grow up in the village as a child

And as we talked  the boys would slide into your room

 

Instead of prowling the streets and alleys like wolves

Blowing their heads off with petrol, gas and glue

and they listened too and laughed as I told you

 

Of places I’d been to and those Manhattan night views,

Of exploring the walkways and hidden stairs and floors

Of Grand Central Station in the early hours explorations

 

Of that quiet time before dawn when the night crew

Sat around yawning or folded asleep at their desks.

The crazy stories of the village and old Digger Young

 

And his fight to get away from the awakening dead.

And the boys soon fell asleep on the floor but you

Sat up wanting more of those childhood stories .

 

More of the kind that made you laugh you said.

And you told me your stories too, of North Wales

And the homes and what you had been through.

 

And you cried now and then. And asked do you

Believe me? Do you believe what I’ve said they did?

And I told you I do. I believed you. You cried again.

 

And then you said quietly I think I can sleep now.

And then one night you looked at me and said

I must be bad for those men to treat me like that

 

In the way that they did. And you asked me

Do you think I’m bad? I mean really bad?

Is there a sign on my head that says about me

 

anyone can do whatever they want with me.

I told you that there are bad men and yes

they do bad things and they did that to you.

 

But what they did didn’t make you bad at all.

It says more about them than it says about you.

And then you told your story over and over again

 

To the social workers, their managers and the police.

And they decided you and the rest were just lying

And through the nights that followed I listened

 

To your anger and the pain of feeling betrayed again

And again and again and again and again and again.

Years later you wrote a letter saying you remembered.

Absence by Rob Cullen

Present absent lost.

He was here there
but parts were absent
lost on an Italian beach
amid 90 per cent casualties.

Locked in a camp
with one water faucet
and 7000 thirsty starving men
Waiting for red cross parcels.

He never wore
his campaign medals
or marched
up and down

Saluting cenotaphs
as old soldiers do
at the parades
each year in town.

We lived
with photographs
sealed in a black box
locked under his bed

Photographs taken
of pre-war days
Serpentine deck chairs
of Regents park

Hyde Park
Speakers Corner
On Sundays
And those friends

His memories
all gone
now then
and now he’s gone too

Lost in translation
the silence
of survivors
shame and guilt

And the inability
to talk
to describe
to anyone

Who’s never been
There, out there,
who can understand
without telling.

Without explaining
the emotion
the fear
and the elation.

Then the shame
and we his children
deal with
his silence.
Sudden tempers
avoidance
of conflict and
alone in his garden.

Clinging
to silence
absence
disconnection.

Of being there
but not here
except to share a past
that came before.

He returned
but he was not
the same man
they said.

I knew only
this man
that man
not the one before.

Sometimes it was like
dancing with ghosts,
the unsaid words
the brief glimpses.

And the sound
of a knife scraping
food endlessly
round the plate.

It was always easier
to eat fast and get down
and leave than listen
to that scraping knife.

Some days you became
a grey thin shadow
discernible not solid
but there somehow.

I saw you cry
after the death of your father
but it was your anger
that came back with you.

You came to me
after your mother’s passing
but you shirked the hand
I placed on your shoulder.

Present absent lost.

Lament for the Girl of the Morning Sea by Rob Cullen

A premonition of merciful peace has emerged
In the morning of this day.

And as if in agreement
Your hand opens to the waves.
In a movement of gratitude,
A moment of quiet acceptance.
I have heard you sing
To the waves crests,
Rise, rise from your depths
Rid me of all pain
I am alone wash over me.

In this bright early hour
You are at once transformed.
Peace adorns you,
Rests on your face.
I have seen you whisper
To the open sky
Touch me, cleanse me
Rid me of all fear.
I am alone wash over me.

Your hair hangs tangled
Stiffly on your eyes,
Green-water droplets
Trickle to your lips.
Your fingers grasp
The waters edge.
The shoreline pierces you,
Welcomes you, calls to you.
I am alone wash over me.

And you lying unseen
A curved silken spine
Broken by spite
The savagery of indifference
And the brutality
Of unmourned death
Move without moving.
Knowing nothing, knowing nothing
In your quiet sadness.
I am alone wash over me.

I have heard you sing
To the waves crests’
Rise from your depths
Rise from your submerged stillness.
I have heard you sing
To the open sky,
Touch me, cleanse me,
Rid me of all pain,
Rid me of all fear.
I am alone wash over me.

Your mother cries for you in her silence
And mourns for another in her isolation.
I am alone wash over me.

Voting for War by Rob Cullen

So they’ve voted for our safety and to go to war
and the dead are walking the land once more
and the dead are standing again at the door
standing there, looking, waiting once more
they were the ones who went out to the war
now they are standing waiting for the ones
who are going where they’d been once before,
waiting, waiting for the dead to return once more.
and the dead are standing again at the door
standing there, looking, waiting once more.

An SOS from the frontier by Rob Cullen

This is a message from the borderlands

That endless windswept unending place

So I whisper the message to you and me

If you could have heard all that I’ve heard

If you could see all those things I’ve seen

If you could have been there, far out there

If you could have listened to people’s words

Listened to all those broken hurting people

That place out there, in here, in me, in you.

The dark frontier, that secret place you know

I know, we know, we all know, but deny

its existence. But for me there is no choice

I cannot deny. It’s imprinted on my mind.

My memory is not blind, deaf or unfeeling.

But I wish sometimes that it might be so.

So now what do I do with these memories

The words I do not wish to store, to hold

Like some mad treasure trove, an archive

of the horrors of mankind, of humankind

the stories told and told and  told again,

and again, again and again. The faces change

but the pain and fear and the words remain.

It’s the same, it’s unending, it’s our narrative

as long as we survive this story will evolve

and grow and grow for we are humans.

I worked amongst the desolation, fragments

survivors, of lives that might have flowered

the endless unknowing, what might have been

who would I have been if that had not been done

to me, to who I was, a child, and unsuspecting.

Imagine the innocence and the quiet trust.

And all that time of working to heal – denial

A total blindness to the reality of the harm

being done to children everywhere you look

It’s a reality, take a bus or a train, sit in a café

you will be close to someone who has survived.

And then the guaranteed denial that fact is fact

In the face of all that and then that sound

of wheels within wheels grinding, the noise

of conversations and the deals in closed rooms

to keep silence, to protect the perpetrators

and prevent the door room from being opened

and the truth from being known and shared.

Forty years of denial, obstruction and frustration.

So open the door wide and let the light in!

Clearances by Rob Cullen

I see my people’s names

in all the places I search

but I do not see them.

 

I read my people’s names

on the dry page of the folded map

but the land before me is empty.

 

I watch the landscape

identifying the marks

that my people have named

but the sound of their voices

is no longer heard.

They are quiet

no echoing of names called

no trail of our footprints

only the trail of names

in a land that calls itself

by a strangers name.

A land echoing in its emptiness.

 

The mountains are still with us

but we are nowhere seen.

 

“And we will present our eyes to the world.

Is it pretentions to believe that we are equal?

Is it asking too much that we want to live?”

(From Deliverance: Alan Stivell)

 

At Kinlochmoidart 1993.

And the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

Imagine it is your child

Not a Syrian baby

Not an immigrant

Not a foreigner’s child

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Imagine it is your son

Alone in a land

And he has no clothes

When the weather is cold

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Imagine it is your daughter

Hungry and thirsty

Walking alone

Where no one speaks her language

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Think of your child

Without a mother

Without a father

Walking alone

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Think of your child

Unable to cry

When there is no one

To hold you

No one to protect you

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Think of those children

As if they are yours

Walking alone

So far from home

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

If they were our children

Would we stay silent?

Would we look the other way?

Would we insist its someone else’s problem?

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey