Poems by Michael J. Whelan (Ireland)
Published in issue 39 of The Ofi Press
Inside the citadel
cinders flickered in the dusk,
sparks rose up from the ashes
like desperate ghosts escaping the future.
Outside, on the gathering hills,
while the city smoked,
the embers of burning history
glowed in the growing dark.
Out there you huddled with your great guns
around the warmth of thirsty fires,
boots off, souls circling the forgiving heat
as you vanquished past enemies,
relived victories, dismissed defeats
and gloried in the new justice
your liberations would soon bring
on the people within.
The conquered would learn to accept
their new landscapes,
and you their liberators tapped cigarettes
into empty fingerprint shell casings
building up behind your crusade,
a brass trail of stained retribution
for all the world to see.
| TOUR OF DUTY|
There is this memory of violence,
this sand on Tel Aviv Beach,
like warm powder between my toes,
what I imagine the moon is like
when warmed by the sun, and I stand there,
white waves rolling in like silent dreams
I haven’t had yet, the sea distorting the curve.
I wake suddenly to a blue sky,
welcome myself again to the great
encapsulating dome of reality,
the peace torn by a low flying jet
dropping strings of chaff, bursting
through the valley to hide safely behind the hills,
mission complete, ordinance delivered over Beirut.
I welcome myself back again,
collect my bearings,
remember where it is I am.
The pilot will be home soon.
I count the days.
Michael J. Whelan is a soldier-poet, writer & historian (Curator – Irish Air Corps Aviation Museum) living in Tallaght County Dublin. He served as a peacekeeper in South Lebanon and Kosovo during the conflicts in those countries, which inspires much of his work. He was 2nd Place Winner in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2011, Shortlisted in 2012 with a Special Commendation in 2013. He was 3rd Place Winner in the Jonathon Swift Creative Writing Awards 2012, shortlisted in the Doire Press and Cork Literary Manuscript Competitions and selected for the Eigse Eireann/Poetry Ireland Introductions 2012. His work has appeared in the Hennessy New Irish Writing 2013, Poetry Ireland Review, the Red Line Book Festival and other literary magazines and newspapers. New poems appeared in a new anthology titled ‘The Hundred Years War’ published by Bloodaxe UK in May 2014.
Photo by Andy Reeve.