My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 14 – Philomena


Who’s in that house there, look?
I thought I saw a light
flickering in the empty rooms;
who’d be in there
late on Saturday night?

Who’s in that house there – that
wee house belongs to my dad!
No one lives there now.
Should we go and check
it’s nothing bad?

Who’s in that house there – oh!
Was that a ghost I saw?
No, let’s just get on home;
we can let someone know,
and they can call the law.

Who’s in that house there – ha!
You’d think it was a banshee!
We’ll soon be on our way,
I wont keep us too long.
Come on girls, follow me.

*   Inspired by Thomas Hardy’s “Who’s In The Next Room?”

Sixteen-year-old female Catholic civilian, killed by Irish Republican Army (IRA) booby trap bomb left in a derelict house in County Armagh, formerly used as a British Army (BA) observation post. 

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 13 – The Customers

The Customers

summer’s here,
we’re enjoying a
wee drink
in this bar.
A mix of us, from
sides of the fence.
Unusual for these
troubled times
but it works
for us.
The balmy moon glows
in our glasses,
when the
yellow headed
invade the bar and
call out for us to
by faith.
Our drinks stay
at our lips;
this will be
for some of us;
and for what crime?

Fifty-year-old Catholic civilian, forty-five-year-old Catholic civilian, forty-seven-year-old Protestant civilian, fifty-three-year-old Protestant civilian and fifty-nine-year-old Catholic civilian, shot dead during a gun attack on a bar in Belfast by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in retaliation for a Provisional IRA (PIRA) bomb attack on another bar on the same day, in which two Protestant civilians were killed. 

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 12 – David

(Apologies for the hiatus, I’ll be catching up with posting my NaPoWriMo poems this week…)


We’ve stopped here by a ditch,
across the sea from home;
guns across our chests, peering
like Eagle Eyes action men.
It’s wetter here, more clouds;
the sky drips more, but still
I know this grass, this hedge,
this trigger in my hand.
This poky town known for
pottery vases, creamy
like the milk the cows
gush, fed from meadows hereabouts.
And now we’re on the way,
our fags flicked in the ditch
and we’re crossing by the bridge
when the sun comes through the clouds
and takes my mate beside me.
I watch as one last breath
claws from his ragged chest.
Behind him, another pal,
flung between the sky and the ground
without his heart, as I reel.
I’m no longer a boy,
not yet a man.
I’m green and fresh
like this Irish grass.
I hope to take this home,
this heat and light, the flying
metal and blood,
to chew the cud of this
experience, taste its bitter grass
and gush the tears of guilt.
I’ll not bear a grudge
or hate in my heart
or talk about it much,
this war of men
below these streaming clouds.

Twenty-year–old soldier killed in a land mine attack on a British Army (BA) mobile patrol in County Armagh  by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). 

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 11 – Thomas


I was dumped at this church,
unable to get home;
back down the hill into town.
This city, this town is deathly sick;
my head stoved in with a brick
and barrels from the bar.
I watch a car
toil up Forthriver’s rise,
from this hill among the skies.
No hallowed stones or weathered blocks
for me, just an ugly brick box
like a clinic or youth club.
This isn’t the church I’d haunt
given the choice.
But when they bate my head
in the toilets of that bar:
falling barrels, aye
that’s what they said,
choice was taken from me
by a butcher in his cups.
Now I gaze towards Divis,
with its peaks and troughs
and over to the east,
Cave Hill and the lough.
There’s no bells here
to ring out my salvation,
no vengeance divine
will ever be mine.
A bullet in the leg’s no pay
for stolen lives
consigned to yesterday.

Twenty-two year old male civilian, beaten to death following a personal dispute by Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)  members of the Shankill Butchers.

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 9 – Paul


I’m republican first and foremost,
Irish unity for all;
why take up arms with Provos
while so many comrades fall?

We’re all in this together;
our bloody struggle’s real.
“Brits out” is our true war-cry;
do all heed that righteous goal?

All this talk of bloody pogroms;
our own pubs and clubs on fire:
what’s happened to our faction,
to “Up the rebels; Tiocfaidh ar la?”

Neighbours from the Falls
are not our natural foes,
but they’re crippling our own people,
local business forced to close.

I’ve lost friends and brilliant colleagues,
Brave republicans all.
Cut down, betrayed and bombed out
by men who shared church stalls.

Enemies of reunification
are our one true Irish foe;
we defend retaliation:
Provo with Provo.

I reject internal violence
but here goes another brawl.
“Our Day Will Come” forgotten
as our shared battle call.

Nineteen-year-old male Civilian Political Activist (CivPA), shot by the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) during an ongoing (OIRA) / (IRA) feud.

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 7 – Roy


Bells ringing on the radio,
Merry Christmas EverybodySilent Night;
my ma wants a record of carols;
I’ll pick one up tonight.

I had a wee dance in the kitchen,
and she laughed as I shuffled along;
the fits have left me limping,
and my arm hangs down all wrong.

But after all, I’m lucky,
holding down a job;
getting the crack with my mates,
earning a good few bob.

I can’t move very quickly,
but I’ll give most things a go.
People see my stiffened limbs and
no one blames me if I’m slow.

Disabled twenty-three-year-old male, shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) while trying to stall a bomb attack at his workplace in Belfast.

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 6 – Brandy


Black and tan, contentious colours,
your panting flanks and eager eye.
A questing snout quivers to defend;
loyalty is your nature, not a means to an end.

Drunk, I named you for a drink,
But Fido, that tired  joke, is your ideal:
faithful, trustworthy,
except, perhaps, around a meal.

Your greed was your doom, or martyrdom.
To poison the bowl of a fellow-creature
eager to live, to take breath,
and eager too, for your faithless caress.

Three-year-old male German shepherd dog, poisoned after his owner was shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Belfast.

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 5 – John, Joanne, Andrew

John, Joanne, Andrew

Three years, five months, one week, two days.
Four bairns, three gone, one left:
No ghosts trouble me;
gone for good, oh, gone.
If I could
gather up the days, go back,
to that summer afternoon,
our Mark up ahead, wee Jo on her bike and
baby Andrew, oh, my babies. John just catching on with his chubby legs.
If I could
go back, move a wee bit faster, clear the railings,
hear the car, see the swerve,
gather up the kids and run.
Outrun these scattered shapes and sounds
that ask me questions I cannot answer.
Why ma, why?
If I could
hear their voices once more, but
they are gone, and God hasn’t sent me a word.
I’ve forgotten their wee voices, and
dying again as their faces fade,
my eyes listless as I long to join them.

Eight-and-a-half-year-old girl, her six-week-old brother, and their two-and-a-half-year-old brother,  killed when hit by an out of control car that mounted the pavement, driven by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member who had been mortally shot by a British Army (BA) patrol. Their mother committed suicide in 1980.


NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 4 – Samuel


Winter still,
the earth brown between wet lanes
and the hedges bare like bones.
My thumbs, stiff and rough
yet twitch for spring,
for nature to swing
into its well-worn path.
The blush of green will creep as always
over the Sperrins, the daylight unbend as
the dew retreats to misty morns.
More than seventy seasons now
I’ve breathed this air:
this oak, this beech
have grown older
as have I,
and though I am tired
and withered, tumbling easier like the winter leaf,
yet this is my land
from which I draw the strength to meet the years.
I will not fear.

71-year-old male civilian, beaten to death at his farm in County Derry by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) after witnessing a robbery.

My writing, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Writing

NaPoWriMo Day 3 -Brian


“Watch our Brian,” our ma shouted from the kitchen,
elbow deep in peelings.
“No bother” I called, plumping down my bag and coat.
But when I made a mug of tea, he’d slipped away
for a wee dander on the street.
I let him have his play,
Not wanting to bother our ma.

“Your Brian’s been shot!
A shrill wee voice burst into the house,
a pal, no doubt, playing a prank.
What a thing to say! But my heart leapt
to my mouth, and I went outside,
not wanting to scare our ma.

They’d taken him next door
and laid him on the sofa.
His arms and legs thrashed,
his blonde hair was soaked in red;
his head.
He’d brought up his food, and his eyes were blind.
I held him close,
not wanting our ma to see him like this.

“They dragged him by his ankles!” people around me cried:
“They tried to carry him off!”
We eyed the khaki-clad soldiers
as they shoved into the ambulance.
But I elbowed my way in
as they held back our screaming ma.

At the hospital, they tried to bring him back,
the doctors and nurses,
as they worked in a ring of military forces
holding closed the door.
They pushed at his heart and patched up his head,
but they didn’t let me hold him,
to stand in for his ma.

They put him on machines
to breathe for him, but my brother was gone,
blown out from his own head:
and six days later he was dead.
At the funeral, on his birthday
I carried the cards and balloons
she’d bought for him;
our prostrated ma.

13-year-old male, died six days after being hit by a plastic bullet fired by the British Army, near his home in Belfast.