Freelance Journalist / Forlorn Hope
Texas Observer


Texas Observer

Texas Observer

The Independent

The Independent

Behind the Butcher's Shop

Behind the Butcher's Shop

The patriotic punter licks his lips

As the butcher beckons him follow out back:

“This way, sir, for the really prime bits”

Opening the door on the gourmet rack—


“Just in today—look at that fine flesh!”

He picks up a lean, tanned, young arm

Opalescent with cartilage, certified fresh

By the date on the tag from Nad-E-Ali Farm.


Beside it are more labelled limbs, arranged by size

A fine mixture–legs sawed-off mid-thigh

Others below the knee for compromise

Spoilt for choice, our discerning customer casts his eye


Over these products’ exotic origins:

Sangin, Garmsir, Musa Qala–imports from

New worlds of glory, rewarded with operational medal-wins

Claiming to stand with Goose Green, Normandy, the Somme.


Marvellous Way to Die

Marvellous Way to Die

There are tallies for bombs and metal bullets

But you won’t ever hear about the real chart topper

For the numbers become rather excessive with

Such eager exodus from so many loins

As soldiers maintain an interest

In what is sadly out of reach by

Grabbing what’s closest to hand.


It doesn’t take much to start the simmer

A rare-sighted bra drying on a line or

Just the mind wandering to better times

Then there’s not much left to do

But head to the ramshackle shitters

In the blazing sun and ignore the flies

And crack on with everyone’s favourite sin.


People talk about courageous loss of martial life

But what of these legions of milky souls spent

Some falling destitute to the sand others

More respectfully collected in tissues as

Eyes close in bliss with a blessed sigh

—Such a marvellous way for them to die.


Unbidden Bedside Visitor

Unbidden Bedside Visitor

The day finished and clambered into bed,—

My mind churned, groping for sleep

Then it came, a figure stood close overhead;

From whence, I knew not, perhaps some terror hidden deep,

Where wicked truths creep from crevasses that weep.

    With covered head this shadow remained still,

    —Suddenly she gripped my wrist, delicate fingers firm,

    Iraqi or Afghani? Frozen I couldn’t turn.

She brought no danger just a tender chill;

Like Mary she had a question still raw:

‘Why did you take my son from me?’

I quickly opened my eyes before

Others gathered bearing the same agonizing plea.

The way the war ends

The way the war ends

Medals colourfully strewn in a draw,
A beret crumpled in a cardboard box,
Framed photos of martial exuberance,
—Scar tissue creeping down, down through the soul.

This is the way the war ends—
This is the way the war ends—
This is the way the war ends—
Not with a cheer but a sob for mother.