There’s a field of sunflowers, fertilised
with blood and bone that’s fallen from the sky.
A forensic crop, to be scrutinised
for every seed of truth; felled from on high.
There’ll be a harvest of human debris,
a reassembling of the scatterings.
There’ll be an inquest into tragedy
with assessment of its smatterings.
And all of this… and all of this for what?
A crime scene, rich with humanity’s loss.
A battle field, a war zone; someone’s plot
eternal, and ‘they’ couldn’t give a toss.
. Scatterings – the source of recovery.
. Smatterings – the course of discovery.
To the reader: Civilian passengers and crew, on MH17, were victims of a missile attack. Aircraft and human debris landed in a field of sunflowers in Ukrane’s disputed territory. Embattled circumstances surrounding the crime scene created a forensic nightmare. The inexplicable nature of the horrific attack was worsened by a lack of responsibility or remorse shown by those who perpetrated the crime.
To the poet: Looking back on my draft, this sonnet was written in one session without much editing required. At the time of writing, there was a pervasive sense of frustration being expressed by nations seeking compassionate resolution. Without reserve, the sonnet depicts a wantonly wasteful tragedy… highlights the futility of war.
Once again, death rejoices a new grave,
a soiled-over body, a buried soul;
welcomes The Dead (Le Mort) to Hades’ cave;
adds a fresh bag of bones to its countless toll.
The spoils of victory entombed, encased
in a casket of clay, in wet mud drenched,
dispirited, disposed of, laid to waste,
laid to rest in pieces; so long entrenched.
‘So Long’ farewelled, given back; dust to dust…
But listen, through the dirge, the Angels sing.
‘Hark’ the Angels sing (as so the Angels must)
“Where, Oh Death, is your victory, your sting?”
. Through nothingness Death must surrender all,
. beyond nothingness – Eternity’s call.
To the reader: He was 94 at death. An Uncle. An only son. An alcoholic… a troubled soul… a widower with children… a mechanic… a reformed alcoholic… a preacher; a man who found redemption. At life’s end, a man who had travelled a long and arduous journey of self-discovery. An adored father… a revered brother… a soul at rest; freed of Death’s sting, for “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11: 25-26).
To the poet: This sonnet is a layered interpretation of one man’s passage through, and beyond, the doors of death towards eternal peace. To begin with, words rattle with visual references, “but listen” (at line 10) calls upon a new register of interpretation: “Hark the Angels sing”. The dismissal of Death as an ending in itself (1 Corinthians 15:55) takes the sting out of life’s terminal destination. At Death we join the countless dead and become at last united with one collective spirit… so the story goes.
It’s claimed ‘the gun is innocent’ … guiltless;
absolved of all responsibility.
A much maligned artefact, mere witness
to bloodshed … has no culpability.
Left then to wonder, left in state of stun.
‘Pursuit of happiness … justice and peace’
Doubt’s made a target of the smoking gun.
Trigger-point stand-off with hair-pin release.
Struggling to make sense, tense with disbelief.
Broken logic, broken hearts, broken dreams,
shattered confidence; consequence is grief.
To bear arms, not as simple as it seems.
. Nothing gained by force is a remedy.
. What worth is a good man with enmity?
To the reader: What relationship would prosper on the promulgation of fear and suspicion? Not one that values the pursuit of happiness. By nature, the trigger-happy fool is impulsive and irresponsible; prone to late apology; an after-thought. The perceived need to self-protect describes an individualistic ideology where social order is mistrusted; it’s the breeding ground for gun-toting rhetoric and double-barrelled nonsense.
To the poet: With this sonnet my aim was broad. I took a scatter-gun approach to the target. A rat-a-tat list of ideas that sprayed shrapnel far and wide. On the rambling range, I used a metaphoric weapon that had no respect for its victim. Collateral damage was an unfortunate consequence, tolerated as expected impact. The late volta (the swivel at line 12) took final aim… in case the point was missed.
To the reader: The soft-counselling of a friend provides a safe place for disappointment and sadness to speak its voice. In the resolution of loss or grief there are moments when wise-words are best left unspoken. In these moments, the broken-hearted and the grief-stricken seek nothing more than reassurance. Their healing process begins with the confirmation of a companion that cares enough to listen. In time, the spoken response will be appropriate… save that for later.
To the poet: “Should they be blurred to favour tolerance?” Between writing and interpreting this line of thought, I think I’ve softened the tension between tolerance and suspended judgement. The need for restraint in criticism has been replaced with a more general statement on responsive listening. I’ve not really answered the question: “How much lee-way does intolerance deserve?”
Pall of darkness on road to Damascus;
It’s a sad indictment of light’s reform.
The mood is tense and turning fractious;
What says the message in this rising storm?
They do not hear its thunder. Are they deaf
to its rumbling; to its tremulous pound?
They are so broken of spirit, no clef
can orchestrate meaning, make sense of sound.
How loud must the message be amplified
before these soldiers are stopped in their tracks?
What lightning, what thunder must coincide
in their hearts and minds? … meanwhile Kingdom cracks.
. All roads lead to somewhere, they are the course
. of discovery; fortune and remorse.
To the reader: Two years on… and the crisis intensifies; a sad indictment of geo-political posturing. As tallied, the numbers describing death and displacement are staggering. Associated stories are horrendous; and yet, the map of suffering and destruction consumes itself with ravenous ferocity. Nothing to do with justice. Misguided conviction plays out another confrontation; another catastrophe; another war crime – such a pity.
To the poet: Man of darkness on the road to Damascus. A conversion story, where Saul takes on a simple journey that leads to a complex tale of self-discovery. Paul (Saul’s alter ego) emerges from the flash-point a transformed individual. In Aristotle’s theatrical framework (Poetics) Saul’s crisis is the turning-point; the reversal, from which Paul seeks resolution. The equivalence of one man’s story…
I have swept the path of last Summer’s leaves;
it’s late April, so prepare the parade.
Salute the fallen; sombre Autumn heaves
a sigh; recalls the cover of green shade.
Now, on my shoulder rests a golden leaf.
What am I to do? Brush it to the ground?
How do I interpret this small motif:
as commemorative fall; from tree unbound?
Between my shoulder and the ground there’s space,
just enough space, to think about good cause.
There’s time, just enough time, to put in place
a thought… a moment for reflective pause.
. In fluttering leaves there’s a story told,
. it’s a narrative, that turns green to gold.
To the reader: In temperate Australia, the autumnal month of April is adorned with commemorative symbolism. The imagery includes bravery and mateship woven into wreathes of green and gold. As the leaves of Summer flutter softly to the ground, there’s a sombre passage of reflection; space and time to remember the fallen before winter turns the foliage to mush. Those who fought for peace, now rest in peace… lest we forget.
To the poet: A nice sonnet that turns a small personal incident into something more socially significant; and that’s the point of poetry. Through the obvious we discover truth; between gaps we discover opportunity; from now we interpret the moment – but only if we take notice. As poets, we need to observe what is and isn’t happening; for between these occurrences speaks possibility… through the poet’s eye we imagine the universe.