We stooped outside behind closed doors,
towering edifices stained of our blood
with bolted ironmongery antique wrought
acquired from our toils in barren fields. While
apartheid reigned they proclaimed
we should not think just do as they say
and when we dared to proffer opinion,
we echoed views that they delivered
in what we said and how we spoke. Back
then we dressed in tattered rags,
bowed down low for we were the meek
and when we ate savanna scraps
our ribs were exposed like rough tyre tracks
over arid ground that we cultivated. Over
two decades have passed us by with
no one remembering as we do, though
once closed doors have sprung ajar. Yet
our entrance remains blocked as back then
barred by brothers who look like us
for mass exploitation is ubiquitous
in their factories at their retail stores
on street corners for we are their whores
to live our life, poverty constrained
despite Madiba and his ilk who
sacrificed all for Soweto causes. Yet
our children have few labour rights
sweating long hours with scant reward
producing goods at the lowest cost,
boosting profits increasing dividends
to those for whom wealth is but
without conscience, behind closed doors.
First Grow A Rose Garden
Inspired by the Turkish Government’s proposal in February 2016
to plant a rose garden in Mardin as part of an action plan
for resolving the ongoing Kurdish differences and conflicts
Terror from bloody conflict, hurt to mankind. Pain
of the innocent homeless with scant hope for a future.
Scarred by incursions turning fortresses into hell,
caught by alien obsessions with frolics nefarious, obscene.
Though in depths of sorrow, nobody seemed to care,
no warm hands of friendship to restore, to repair
less politician’s strategic plans with substantive commitments
en pursuit of some vestige of stability when at first
a rose garden is planted.
Scented, fragrant to ameliorate the trauma,
devastation, mutilation without any purpose.
White petals in profusion – symbols of peace, reconciliation,
tokens of rebuilding trust as paradigm for a united nation
with conscience and wisdom towards integration
of communities alienated, their homes decimated
by bullets, by bombs with loved ones taken.
Gone but not forgotten in their domain of Mardin.
Pisky (meaning “sand”) village in Yasynuvata Raion
near Donetsk International Airport, eastern Ukraine
Snow has returned to our Pisky
ice, bitter wind, freezing rain.
Nobody remains in this broken village
apart from beekeeper and adoring wife.
And aged lady tending singleton son
who moved on time and time again
for munitions damaged their humble home,
flattened prone after lifetime of caring.
Our butcher, baker, last school teacher
escaped to safe location off in Donetsk
along with parents and treasured offspring
taking life and soul out of our village.
While man who sold vodka, imported beer
departed over bridge to new life up above
joining scores of young men from alien fields
prostrate under snow in our bloody meadows.
Though seamstress exists next to bomb crater
making woollen dolls to keep fragile hands in,
in freezing cold for electricity has gone
together with any semblance of normality here
while all last hope in village has vanished,
vanquished by conflict rumbling on.
For they destroyed our once proud district:
our life, our existence, our very being.
But we do not know just who they are
or what they want or what they care for
or reasons why they decimated Pisky
or reasons why only we were spared.
Perhaps we hallow some good luck fairy,
mischievous guardian from afar though
answers are not in our parochial focus
merely longing to cross bridge, back home.
Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions. Published in anthologies and literary magazines, his poems also feature in online zines in North America and Europe. During September 2019, he was Featured Writer of the Federation Writers Scotland.
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