The dying corporal was spread eagled

in his underpants, his executioners

and judges – a mob of fathers and sons –

dressed, as he had been, undercover,

in trainers, denims and a sweater.


Civil war, for almost a generation,

had burgeoned. Solutions receded. Rights

gained were matched by rights removed: all our freedoms

lessened so neighbours might vote, have jobs,

houses. Things did not make sense, only words.

‘Derry’ was a political statement.


Instant demagoguery occupied

newsprint and tv screen with the candour

of hatred and the clichés of righteousness –

“…these people…” Not to understand, only

to condemn, betrayed our humanity.


Technologies enhanced, determined

response: the Smith & Wesson, neglected

in the shoebox under the bed, replaced

by coded warnings to tv stations…

The night, which could be anywhere, was on fire.

Unseeing, the parade of errors

swaggered into the dark.




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