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Saturday, May 14, 2011


It has been a long time, Tub
Since we’ve talked together
We should have done something then, Tub,
for it is happening now over again

There was the nation’s policeman
Who said the world was not so safe
But he backed completely off
When the politicians told him what to say.

And the General of the Army
who agreed with the politicians
Yet a million of us ordinary people,
Believed it to be the other way

WMD have come and gone
This time the intelligence services
with names like DIO and ASIO,
ASIS and Pinocchio
Where nobody knows who told what to who

He has won control in the voting, Tub.
So expect it to get much worse
‘ll be easier now to take people’s jobs
and throw them on the street,
in the name of a god called Growth.

I told you before it was time in jail
For speaking out too loud
Dead still we stopped that one then Tub.
But it will come up again now soon,
And the possibility does really exist,
that I might get it too.

My family too has gone its own ways, too
We told you we were worried then,
And now it is more than two years later,
Two sadder people.
That is the world, Tub


Boats, magic in themselves
Pushing into the wind
Lee awash, much sail up
A joy rare to experience.

Wandering down the bay
Wings a–gulled,
Every square of sail spread out
Easy for you; a lazy time.

Wind and rain screaming
across the boat. Wet through;
Eyes squinted tight, barely seeing
A little apprehensive.

At a mooring on the bay,
Friends, pleasant times
Sun streaming, sails tied
Other boats around.

Overnight, further up the coast
A strange harbour,
Raining, the hatch leaks,
No sleep; but secure at anchor

The joy of it all,
Out to sea
Fair weather, cloudless sky
Following winds, coming home.


Expectations placed on me seem all too high
So on us is placed a great and difficult load
And I think at times that they are far too heavy.
But deeply to you they never last

It has been this way over all my years
Asking more of me than I am, can ever be,
Is it my fault ? for I do not always try
Treading a path undemanding but unaware

Is it, has it been, always like this?
It surely has been for me,
Are we those who wander unthinking
Asking little, giving less, from the beginning of time?

Perhaps I try to meet that demand
I think I do, But I follow a path that does not ask,
Nothing. Nor does it create an asking
Rolling; seeking happiness, one or two, never expecting

And your regrets are always there
Readily given; too readily, for they are the deep you
I say it; But they do paper over
any a deepening crack, for I know you mean them .


Words, we are told,
are the setting
of ourselves apart. They
are the reason why
we have conquered our distant past.

I have met many people
who talk well.
Some a lot,
Some eloquently.
Some exactly, precisely, knowingly.

But still an inadequate skill.
For in our hearts, inside our souls
the depth of our thoughts,
our lives, our loves, our hopes
are, inexplicable, impenetrable.

If we do not know ourselves
we cannot  understand
why deeply we search….what
our unknown depths
are truly saying.

And if we know not ourselves,
we cannot speak to others.
Nor can we understand
what they have cried out to us
Now and for years past.

Are they empty, wasted cries?
Never to be answered.
Or will the day come,
that day of awakening,
when we will understand?


Pray for the refugees, dad, she told me,
when I told her where I was going just then .
Many with a much greater need, I replied,             
For there is famine, great terror, and talk of war 
Pray for the world, we said, Lord hear my prayer             
But no-one I am sure, was listening


Storm on an island in a black-grey ocean

Rain drumming incessantly on a tin roof,
Drowning conscious thought
The noise of rain and trees conquers all.

Morning at last;
Emerging sun, broken trees,
flooded pathways, leaves
An island, green and awakening, emerging.

An isle of magic beauty,
Set in a blue-blue ocean
The land of Tusitala
The teller of tales

A land of vivid history
A speck on a wide blue ocean,
Traded among the great powers
Over wars set far from its shores,

Its people were traded too
In a history of their own.
Plus explorers and pirates,
Traders and missionaries.

Aggie Grey and Robert Louis
Bully Hayes and the bible society
All have left their mark
On this green and verdant land

All are there, a society of chiefs;
in the churches on Sunday,
on customs so strange,
In this beautiful island in a blue-blue ocean

Where from the edge
You can see tomorrow.


I sit in a sidewalk café

(There are not enough in this city)
a busy street – many rush by
within their own worlds

and the worlds of those with them
who share their time.
All different – every one.
Brown, white, faces, bodies

Every one
a person to themselves.
distinct and separate.
We know that now.

I watch them - some rush,
Some laugh, not hurried
I think about them
Some interesting – others not.

The short Chinese woman
wobbling a little
following her husband;
cannot keep up.

A young girl, midriff showing
An older woman - a flower person
of decades long past. Still trying.
Not interesting.

The traffic –noisily struggling.
A truck with a painted sign
for a cause. I try to read,
but it is gone, behind many others.

A woman with a stroller,
That baby will grow
to become a person
different from every other.

A man in a suit
A woman – well dressed
Why is it, that at such a moment, more women than men
still turn my head?

There are many of us.
Is what they see in me,
if they see me at all,
different from
   what I see in them?

We are all distinct.
So must we also think differently
– each one of us?
Is what they think
different  for every one?

Yet they all - we all – are asked to think
this way or the opposite.
black against white
on a hundred different issues.

For it or against it,
With us or against us.
With all-too-few a grey,
Although the world is a thousand thoughts,
and a thousand different colours.



A magic moment it is

And certainly it should be

for all of us.
That first full encounter
With love, and exploration
and new bodies. You would need
to be floating, to tell it all.

They were.

The first story
about the number nine bus
Not that it happened there.
It was the going home after
Top front seat. Both hands,
cupping  a crotch,
quietly singing to itself.

The second was hilarious
on the sands by the estuary
when the tide came in
and the car floated away
at the moment of magic .
And after, he was quite sure
that there had been only half a first time,
Or perhaps only a quarter.

Rozzie’s story was the best , however,
for Rozzie had a broken leg.
In plaster – top to toe,
And they only had the sofa.
The others in the flat,
Were asleep. They hoped.

The time had come,
She knew that. He knew it too.
He had been there,
the day she broke her leg.
Too many fumblings since,
On the sofa, in the car, the park outside.
The both knew it.
Her leg was the only problem.

He propped it this way,
She propped it that
Nothing worked well
But much patience and some care,
and finally an achievement came.
Of a sort.

The last was not fun
In the long undergrowth
prickly and damp
Much time but no patience, no warmth.
She laughs now, but two years went by,
before trying again.

Many years later
they told their stories.
Four of the six. Two
would not tell.
And for none of the four
Was it truly a moment of magic.

But we had grown in the years since
For now we could laugh
at that broken moment of magic.
The first of the many
 that follow us all.

The answer lay in the jigsaw puzzle

What sort of sentence is that
Which sounds like Dutch to you or your cat
But you try to combine
In syllables at least nine
A sentence that rhymes with puzzle
And the one only word is guzzle
As well you have the problem
Along with jigsaw it’ll fog em


[With apologies to Tang Man Lan and others of her age]

Arthritics anonymous they called us
But we are not anonymous at all
For you can hear the creaking joints
At least half a mile away.

It is all a wonderful adventure
For we have showed the world how we are
Men and women, sleeping side by side
With common showers
And unlocked, and unlockable, doors

Mind, it is not all that unsafe,
For the fires of youth are a little dimmed
And if not, the creaking floorboards,
Or the arthritic joints
Give ample warning
of nocturnal adventuring.

There are of course the writers
Who within a week will master the novel,
with plots, openings, endings, short stories,
and several varieties of poetry thrown in.

The landscape painters are the heroes,
For off they go in 30 degree heat
Painting the central plains in washed out browns
And coming back with burnt out reds and pinks
But triumphantly having captured on a canvas
the wonders of our western countryside

The doubtful lot are the sculptors
Women of a wonderful age and presence,
With one of the few men amongst them
Being I hear of not a dissimilar age
taking off his clothes each day.
I cannot help but marvel, that the fingers
and the object that they are modeling
have a hundred years between them.

The unknown quantity are the printmakers
With their lino cuts and printers ink.
It is they we need to investigate
For it seems they started late
And there just maybe a chance,
That it was they who started the rumours
Of the anonymous arthritics at class.

My house.

Some people live in a fish bowl,
Others in glass houses.
I live in a washing machine
Not one that goes round and round
But one that goes up and down,
Somewhat like a yo-yo. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

(No title)

Black or white. Theirs or ours. Choose only one.
Creating conflict, and always one who wins.
A world diverges, different, each is just one.
A man and a woman diverge. One, the other.
But life is not grey. The search is eternal.


Life is full of surprises, places, people
Upstate, summer, on the lake,
the people from 82nd. street
a cottage, timbered, at water’s edge,
unbelievably quiet.

Not that far, a pub, all invitation, local noise,
we drive, a half-hour, too far to walk,
the small village, a  boat repairer, two shops,
sold everything. Like my childhood.

So quiet, remote, far removed yet so near
to a city that defies gravity, huge, confronting,
A city that is America, loved and hated,
brass knuckles, noisy, ambitious,
A city of universities, bookstores, theatre.
hamburger joints and Chinese laundries.

A city where unreachable minds, unreadable people,
created ground zero.
Often we think that it could only be there
that we could watch a building disintegrate
while so many people die.

It may have places of quiet dignity,
there maybe an old world charm,
But we see do not see this beauty
and rarely realize its charm.

We see instead downtown canyons
that never see the sun
yellow cabs and rushing people
speaking in a hundred different voices

The world is there; It is a city like no other.
It is the future for all others.


Out of darkness comes a man
with the best and worst of us within him,
A man who rebelled with arms and explosive
As his only path to justice.

What today do we call the man
who fights that way for freedom in his land?

Twenty six years of his life it cost him,
With months in solitary confinement,
And years of breaking rock.
a cell of stark nothingness,
The brutality, the invasion, the denial,
of letters, of contact with those who love and care.

From it emerged one above us all,
That we, good, bad, and so ordinary,
could never be. And for most
would never wish to be.

A man who has a thousand reasons
to hate more than most. A man who struggled
and won with those who had hated him.
The world has a need for such a man.

Nelson Mandela was a man struggling for freedom for his people, but sent to jail as a terrorist. Yet he could forgive. He must be regarded as a great moral leader.

My virtual reality

Found at last an office
in that dirty unknown town
Just a desk in fact. One in an arc of desks
a half circle in a green brown field .

A messy desk, a scattered litter
so moved to an empty one
a few desks further on the arc,
A stranger came to share, a rough one
I don’t know why he was there
But I don’t know why I was either.

I was sealing an envelope, torn at one end
Couldn’t find  new envelopes
between us each with half messed desks,
Went back to the old desk, but none were there,
so tried to seal it with dirty tape,
which stuck to my fingers, 
knotted like a tangled fishing line
sticking to me, the envelope, itself
The envelop wouldn’t seal.

Looked for new tape,
my desk sharer had put  it in his bag
along with a dozen
empty sticky tape reels

A shout from a desk across the field
The dog playing happily
by a small muddy patch
Was pulling himself out
covered in mud
left side hanging, leg dragging behind

He looked to me. piteously
His leg was slit long , I could see inside , to the bone
I cradled him close
Where, where could I find help for him
In this unknown and dirty town ?

My world suddenly became half dark,
It had not been a good that night
The envelope was gone; the dog was OK
My virtual existence
had become real


I sleep alone
it's great

Room for you stuff on the dressing table.
keys, the torch, all the  books

and  papers that still
have to be read

She complains
No cuddling she says

No hot sticky bodies
shoving you out of bed

say I
No blanket wars

No sleeping to another's rules
Can wake at 2. Or 3. Or 4.

Read for an hour.
Without an earful of complaints

And if you want a bit,
of you know what.

You can always
make an appointment.


The Spencerian counter attack,
     after Edmund Spencer
against William Shakespeare.

My mistress’ eyes shine for all the world to see
And long a-glowing are her lips of ruby gold
Her lovely breasts enticing solely me
And hair so beauteous black in long drape and fold.

I have seen roses immersed in red and white,
Such as the roses constantly in her smile
And in no perfume do I find more delight
Than in the looks with which she doth me beguile,

I so love her voice and well do know
That there is no music a more wondrous sound
And although any Goddess can only but flow,
Each step of my mistress floats o’er the ground

With no other I know she can compare
And that by heaven my love is so rare.


Shakespear’s sonnet 130
A very unkind sonnet to a mistress,
Attacking the Spencerian sonnet

If hairs be wires, black wires grew on her head
And in some perfumes there is more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music has afar more pleasing sound

My Last Day

Steve Jobs has asked himself 

If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?

For most of my days 

I have not done what I would do if I  were at my last day

For on my last day, I would want to hug and kiss each and all those dear to me,

 and then say a loving goodbye

and go to the verandah at my mountain house to die,  

But if I did that, I would achieve near to nothing,,

Yet I would have given many hugs and kisses

and hopefully received some back

So I would like you, and all my loved ones

to treat me as though each day

was my last.

Amended 2010 

My Country

Today. I cannot understand
I try to forgive
the country of my birth
Of my early years

I was grown, with family,
When we accepted
that there were other people.
Other colours. Other races.

That we lived among them.
I can never accept
That the first act of my new country was
to exclude them.

There were people here when we came
We, my people, my fathers, my forebears,
Killed them.
Women, men. Like us.

As this century moves on I come to know,
How different I have become
My country’s past is not now
one which I am proud to know

There was another country.
I knew it not
I was taught its history long
I knew it better than my own.

Today, I read  history of my own
I find
That we fought that country’s wars
Our young men died for them.

And that we gloried in that obeisance
That unwillingness to be ourselves
I cannot understand, I cannot forgive
Those who taught me thus

But I am proud. I am proud of those young men
of courage, of a depth so often called on.
And the vast expanse of green and brown.
Its people all, just as strong,
as those young men.

Yet still today. I seek,
To find those we ask to lead ,
touching with the same knuckle
as did my fathers and father forebears.
This I cannot understand. 

My Cat proves Nothing


What David Morris told me

That an elephant has four knees
Where the rest of the world has two
So I yelled for the cat/dog to come
And sure enough it is true.

But my dog is just one of many
So I tried to find the cat

And a bird, I’m sure hasn’t any

Then  David complained  about knees
And  said I should pay him fees



My brother doesn’t write poetry.
All he does is worry
about his business.
And his money.

And make life gruff
for all of us he loves
His children, his wife
My children, and me.

Tho’ he’s not too difficult
For buried there deep
beneath  a  well–hidden soul
and his barnacles galore                                                     

is a kind-hearted man
who will come to your rescue
provided you ask
more than ten days before.

He’ll loan you a quid
Or even a few hundred
And for the kids
It need never come back

The help  is free,
Slow to emerge
And in need of checking,
But there, always there.

Written in 2002


Today is a day for writing.
And walking.
The leaves all wet, the trees
a hundred different types surround
disappearing into an ever thickening mist.

Those near, tall, climbing ever upwards
to a sky of grey, dripping damp
then fading into a far nothingness
and the hills you know behind them.

The birds are quiet on a day as this
Yesterday full of sunshine,
they laughed, chattered, a thousand songs
you believe of joy and happiness
Today, in the mist, a few short calls,
Most are quiet.

A walk today is a different pleasure,
little to see, but a day with a deep deep soul
down the path, through the sky-climbing trees,
enveloped in a cool damp greenness,
closed in your own small world.

Out at the cliff’s edge,
high and spectacular still
The valley is buried, the hills the other side,
no longer there. The sun far gone
It is a world primeval,
engraving itself on you.

You welcome this return to yourself,
But deep within are very glad,
No longer is all primitive man
Today should books, a fire,
 a desk to write.


A river, a dam,
An English dam they said.
Welsh water for the English,
But I was from a far distant land.

Above all a woman,
A girl and a woman,
from the town nearby,
Tom’s daughter.

She tried to teach me
where my soul belonged,
what it is to be me.
to love and be loved. Not easy.

We joined, stayed,
for long years,
Traveled much
as people of my land do.

Many lands, oceans separate.
Many differences.
Always, always, She came with me.

But we were different
Logic and emotion
Are not
everlasting companions.

In the years since
they have found a name for those
whose logic
demands compliance.

She left.

I have traveled alone
Many new lands,
But finally I came back
To the river, the dam, the little town.

I rang her own,
That unpronounceable name
They talked to her,
and to me, said no.

I came again
More years later
The dam, the river, all much smaller.

The house, the hotel,
She was gone.
Cardiff maybe?
But nobody knew.

I searched in vain
for that unpronounceable name.
And all I have now
is a memory.

Revised, February, 2005


Just two or a bit.
Near total joy.
The words we all use.
A warm and willing smile,
outstretched arms, his,
reaching out to us. Irresistible.
Love, infinitesimal, immeasurable,
his without asking.

The legacy of us all,
is also his.
The overriding self,
the “Mine!”, “Mine!”,
the unbelievable tantrum,
the instant demand. Unsatisfiable.
They are also his, from aeons past.

Lasting  an eternity,
tho’ sometimes only seconds
then the Max of much love
returns again.

The years will pass,
G’andi will go.
The love, the lessons,
will never cease
from two people
with infinite care and patience.

And Max will join the adult world
Thinking. More careful with words,
“Mine”  “Mine” long gone.
Not perfect, we never are,
but now
ready to pass on lessons of his own.

Read at  XXI World Congress of Poets, Sydney, 2001


A dog wondering, head tilted
Sun on grass, filling windows
A boy, just five, constant movement,
Smiling, laughter, sister too
A woman, big breasted, loving
Life, a fullness, total joy.

Purpose, work, small successes,
Little measures, goodness
Always trying, searching, filling
Winning, just a little now,
Maybe, one day, full success.
Life, a fullness, total joy.

Humorous they said

Humorous they said!      Impossible!
How can we make jokes about ships and the sea?
Glorious history ; the seven seas
Cook, Nelson, and all , Heroic. Not humorous

And Admiral Byng, for failing to engage the French
in March of ‘57, in magnificent ceremony,
shot on the deck of the Monarch,
riding at anchor in Portsmouth harbour

He was George , but there was John Byng and Richard
Admirals all, and pubs and schools and historical societies,
named after one or the other
Even as cowards, they’re famous, not humorous.

And one’s own adventures to tell,
Perhaps not across all seven
But heroically across channels, straits and rivers
around  the four corners of the globe.

Courtesy of a job with forever travel
First attempt on Acapulco Bay
Learning the ropes in San Francisco
Crossing the channel dead in the night.

Inspired by Hornblower,  Aubrey and all
Heroes who could both fight and sail
The first engagement was a hired boat,
Across the bay, with an admiring one ashore

I know not how Nelson learned to sail
But it was not by hired boat
For this one  flipped, and with me on top
started slowly drifting out to sea.

He came out when my hour was up.
The admiring one had gone to sleep,
But since then I have sailed the world,
never again astride a turned-over  boat.

Adventures galore, hours on smelly rivers
The Yumna into the Ganges
And the poisonous Potomac too
But sailing always the right way up.

Navigational  feats without number
Frobisher in the North West passage
Bligh  4000 miles in open boat
Me across the channel

La Manche; the channel at night
Rough it was ,dark, all of us a-heaving
Correcting for the sweep of tides
France on the horizon in dim light finally.

Which way Deauville?  he asks ,
Port I reply, surely half right
Frobisher must have made some guesses
Ours were just as wrong as his, 
But we at least came back.

All night. Exhausted. Next day into the pond
Tripping face first on the mooring rope
Woken at last  to the nurse’s thermometer
Frobisher didn’t have to face it like that.

Then came the first of seven
The Tasman, oh a wicked sea
Chichester around the world capsized
Only in this beast of a sea.

We tried last year, Dave and me,
Along with  Dave’s light at the time
But she got sick not far from shore
So that day we thought was not for us.

Tried once more again last month
Cautious of Chichester’s sea
Forecast after forecast , but finally the day
that was smooth & safe for Dave and for me.

So safe in fact that wind it died
And we did not sail the first of our seas
But now the boat up there sits, waiting for
the day they forecast winds the other way.

And in the meantime we sit and dream.
Of Anson round the Horn,
Drake on the Spanish Main
Or me on my second sea.

He apologised for the awkwardness of his wings

Awkwardness is a word
Of a type that I’ve often heard
Its like the word mosquiter
Not easy to match the meter
Nor do you have the time
To make the damn word rhyme
And worst when set in an exercise
To use the word apologise


There was a  drake called Dings
Who apologised for the size of his wings,
Every time that
He went to bat
On a duck by the name of Linglings

For their length was such
That he couldn’t do much
Although he often tried
To take a long ride
Using his wings as a sort of a crutch

For if you ever have been
Where a duck and a drake aren’t seen
Doing what they shouldn’t oughta
And that’s trying it out in the water
You’d see why Lings was never too keen

And the reason is that
He would go very flat
As his wings would drag
And cause him to sag
Somewhat like a drowning rat

And whenever they try
On the beach to lie
After he had taught her
To get out of the water
His wing on Ling was as high as the sky

So for a good duck’s sake,
If you’re  a drake on the make
The lesson for each -  don’t try on the beach                    
To get her peach is too long a reach.

Is it you Melbourne?

Is it you Melbourne?
Or is it me?


Humorous they want it to be. Impossible when we write of boats and the sea,
For we think of Drake, and Nelson, Frobisher, Cook and others in their mould
Heroes, every one. People who fought and voyaged, travelled and explored,
to the far corners of our world. Nothing to laugh at there.

The humour, of course, is really  me, brought up on these heroes, 
nurtured into adult life  - Hornblower, much later - Jack Aubrey,
The boy, now man, round the horn with Anson, sailed the main with Drake
and across the oceans  with Slocum. An envious boy and man, year after year.

It started with dad’s half cabin – you know half cabins. They’re the wooden boats
with a cough-cough engine…..ones that will never start…with a big flywheel,
A few still scattered around the back bays of this town. But it is an impossible task
to learn to sail in a boat  running on a cough-cough engine.

And then a job with constant travel confined the seven seas and the world of sail,
to views  from 30, 000 feet and late night reads in many hotel rooms
But at last came the time, the dream - courted, joined, and honeymooned
on Acapulco Bay. And on the beach was a man who rented a boat to sail.

Now I don’t know how Nelson learned his ropes,
or how Drake crossed the Spanish Main
But it wasn’t in their dad’s half cabin. Nor in a rented sailboat.
For you know that the wind provides the power, but you are far from sure just how,
So after you sail across the bay, and turn to go back again,

You find that a sail boat does what cough- coughs would never do,
Years later and familiar with the wind in its many varied ways,
 still you cannot remember how you tipped it   upside down
All you remember is struggling on an upturned boat, drifting slowly out to sea,
Nor had you learned, nor did need to learn, how to get right way up again.

The newly beloved is fast asleep, and the open sea is closing fast.
But the rental man comes out, although not before your hour is up.
And as he slowly tows you back, still astride the upturned boat, you see the hundreds watching you from the shore, agreeing that you are not a Nelson yet.

Sailing school on San Francisco Bay. Not the part all you see, but down the bay,
smelly and mud-flatted, but enough to start the adventures galore,
Rivers, and bays, lakes and channels, and hopefully one day at sea.
From the Jumna off the Ganges, the poisonous Potomac to blue Pacific atolls.
And never one of them was ever sailed astride an upturned boat.

The navigational feats without number: Franklin in the North West Passage
Magellan first round the Horn, Bligh 4000 miles of open boat
But I regret that I have to tell you, they cannot compare
with the feats in my years of sail
The channel at night is dark and rough,
With all of us a-heaving. Me the navigator
Dead reckoning, correcting the sweep of tides.
France on the horizon in dim light finally.

Which way Deauville? he asks Port I reply; quite sure that I
had  be at least half right. And in any case, Nelson, Drake,
all must have made some guesses.
Even Franklin up by the Pole. Although we at least came back

We sailed the remainder of the night, but finally had to turn about
That afternoon into port, exhausted, tripping face first over the mooring line,
Waking next day to a French thermometer. Horatio never had to face France that way.
And I began to realise my adventures were not of the Nelson kind.

But at last came the first of seven seas - the Tasman, a wicked sea
Chichester around the world capsized only in this sea.
We tried last year, Dave and me, along with Dave’s delight at that time
But she got sick not far from shore. That day was not to be for us.

Tried once more again last month, cautious of Chichester’s sea
Forecast after forecast, but came finally the day
that was smooth and  safe for Dave and me.
So safe in fact that wind it died. We motored the first of our seas.

But now the boat up there is waiting until they forecast winds back our way
And in the meantime we sit and dream.
Of Anson round the Horn. Francis Drake on the Spanish Main.
Or me on my second sea.



You have wondered, I am sure,
from times quite recent to our distant past
why we have wrought great cruelty
on others of our kind.

From Charlemagne and the Saxons
to Cromwell with the Irish,
and not that long ago,
the Germans with the Jews.

That the victims were somewhat different
even portrayed as not quite human,
was the reason that no-one argued
against their imprisonment or their slaughter.

Today we can read the propaganda,
watch the newsreels of that time. We would 
still be very sure that we would not
have condemned the different ones called Jews.

Yet they who sent their neighbours to the camps,
were people who had loved and laughed,
who had worked and cried; and came
from families like yours and mine.

Were we not the same when most of us approved
of locking men and women, children,
outsiders every one,
into camps with wire in many layers,
patrolled by guards and guns?

Were we not the same when we believed
that there were terrorists among them;
that they threw their children overboard,
and our leaders called them monsters.

Were we not the same? we believed
our navy and our leaders
Yet we did not wonder - no photos were allowed
or why the those who knew did not speak

Did we not believe when told they were the wealthy
that the poor and deserving still wait in queue?
Although a meeting with just one of them
would tell us  that this is far from true.

We might hope we are different to nations in the past.
That justice and compassion are values deep ingrained.
But our nation did believe, and we did condemn,
those that did not belong. We are just the same.

Published in Open Boat, Barbed Wire Sky.  Live Poets Press, 2003