I don’t suppose it’s any surprise
To have it confirmed that the world is run
By the men of war.
It’s one of those dusty
Early spring days just before the leaves open.
Sat on the grass in a
I think how the sunshiny glass and the frosty
Plumes of the fountains were brought to us
Courtesy of the IRA
And their very big bomb.
To bits and then it grows back again
Who are not dead yet as I write but will be
Dead by the time I come to revise,
Will have their monuments-
Than Saddam’s victory arch with the outsize
Scimitars clutched in muscly arms.
I feel so helpless.
I’ll spend this war
Constructing a habitat for nymphs.
The nymphs are tiny and made of white metal
And wear no clothes. They have weapons though,
Scimitars and spears and bows
To defend their trees which I’ll make from twigs
And their lake which I’ll make from kitchen foil.
Bale-fires green in the
The monuments, the palaces
Cleared from the skyline.
Green, green fire.
The war correspondent speaks to camera
Wearing her gas-mask. Lovely big breasts,
The face half-way between ape and machine.
Our friends went onto the Derbyshire moors
At the solstice. There’s a little stone circle
Few people know.
Phones switched off. The war switched off
And placed a bunch of daffodils.
Beside the hen’s egg- set upright
In a tussock- left by some early riser.
Every man is this much of an artist
He wants to make a world.
Has put his face in every room,
In every building
In every street.
The country is as full of him
As the Iliad is full of genius.
A parachute came down in the
They say the pilot hid in the reeds.
They set the reeds on fire.
They rake them with machine gun bullets.
Someone has found some sort of a bag
And does a dance- the young man dance,-
Bouncey-bounce-bounce- that looks the same
Whether the tune is Thank you, Jesus,
Spurs for the Cup or
We love you, Saddam.
Gifts of silks and mirrors and combs
Are carried in on a bronze shield
To the girls in their burkhas.
A trumpet blows
And a tall girl tips the gear from the shield
And hefts it, stoops and grasps the spear
As it rolls from an unwound bale. Achilles.
Young men cannot dodge their fate.
Odysseus walks him down to a ship
With huge, wide-open eyes at its prow.
Nothing to do with the bombing. No
Only a sandstorm. Only the sand.
And out in the desert the same conditions
Slow down the armies. And out of this horrible
Stony soup come the hit and run fellas
With rifles, putting holes in the soft-sided
Wagons that carry the chow and the water.
None of us- no, not even us peaceniks-
Before things started gave weight enough
To this simple, basic, historical truth:
No-one loves an invader.
How when Napoleon conquered
And freed the people from Hapsburg tyranny,
Spanish patriots went to the wall
Crying, “long live chains,”
The night vision camera
Gives us a landscape that’s emerald green,
And the desert gives us a city that’s red.