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.