Tag Archives: Europe

Forefathers

One walked into shellfire for a mile
and a half
to check if a barbed wire barrier
was now holed

One fought Ottomans in Salonika
and fought again in the next war that burnt Europe

One built underground factories,
and stood at the end of a
bombed and burning street
mourning

We tell their great grandchildren,
watch them weep,
while grateful that
in most of Europe
war is distant

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Each of our Grandfathers survived their wars, but my Aunt lost an fiancé — one of the many American GI’s killed on D-Day.

Forefathers

One walked into shellfire for a mile
and a half
to check if a barbed wire barrier
was now holed

One built underground factories,
and stood at the end of a
bombed and burning street
mourning

One fought Ottomans in Salonika
and fought again in the next war that burnt Europe

We tell their great grandchildren,
watch them weep,
while grateful that
in most of Europe
war is distant

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Each of our Grandfathers survived their wars, but my Aunt lost an fiancé — one of the many American GI’s killed on D-Day.

Hill forts

Sitting on high tumbled ramparts,
grassy domed crater summiting an English hill
where long forgotten battle dead
lie in deep encircling ditches
strange many curled seedpods of Loosestrife
boil up from long grasses.

My mind drifts to mid-Atlantic and volcanic Faial
where people scattered in panic
as deep lake waters drained swirling into the volcano below
afraid that, with magma heating,
the waters would roil back out
destroying all.

Here, in England, emotions roil.
This fort’s tall palisade was
built to defend against the outsider, the other.
Now my country retreats within other palisades
toppling the first domino
to consequence unknown.

Hot gas bubbles seeth up
and through Maria Laach,
the forgotten Rhineland Supervolcano,
bubbling, boiling, at Europe’s heart
unheeded.

Whilst America has elected an arrogant fool
Europe tipple topples into fractions.
Generations have avoided war
yet the great project of Europe
is cracking apart
and the fool given dreadful power
may burn us all.

Hill forts cannot help us now.

The other name for Loosestrife
is Bomb-Weed.

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond  –a rewrite of an older poem

Hill Forts

Hill forts

This grassy crater
With a domed centre
Lies peacefully in the bright sun
Where once violence played
I sit on the rim and stare
Down ten feet or so
To where the strange
Many curled seedpods of Loosestrife
Boil up from the long grass
And think of other craters
The deep circle of Faial’s Caldera
Where once, I am told
People ran away in panic
Having seen the deep lake waters
Drain like a bath down a plughole
Into the volcano below
Afraid that
With magma heating
The waters would boil back out
And envelope them and their families
Here on this English hill
Only emotions boil
We sit on the inner palisade
Of an Iron Age hill fort
Built to defend against the outsider
The other
Just as racist fears have built up
In this  summer of discontent
Driving a country to retreat within its palisades
Toppling the first domino
If I cock my ear
I hear the hot gas bubbles
Breaking the surface of great Maria Laach
Her waters covering
The forgotten Rhineland supervolcano
She is bubbling, boiling, within Germany
As America toys with electing a fool
Europe tipple topples into the usual fractions
Generations have avoided war
Now the great project of Europe
Is cracking apart
Hill forts cannot help us now

Copyright © 2016 Kim Whysall-Hammond

A child alone in Fortress Europe

I didn’t really see his face, but I am still thinking about him.

Watching last night’s news bulletin, I saw a group of what appeared to be young men managing to go over the razor wire fence that the Hungarians have built to protect Fortress Europe from the supposed migrant tide. But, as the reporters caught up with them, they realised that the group were children. Their ages ranged from eleven to fifteen.

Let’s think about that. Here is a group of boys aged between eleven to fifteen, a long way from home, trying to find some sort of safety from whatever they are fleeing from. Alone.

I have a son in that age range. I am so fortunate that I don’t have to send him across a continent in order to avoid death, being forced to be a soldier, starvation, disease. If I believed (as so many surely do outside Europe) that the only way to have a decent life is to leave home and go through immense danger, then I think I would send my son away to take that journey. Obviously no one who starts out toward Europe can truly can understand the difficulties and dangers. But it is human nature to strive. Hope is a powerful emotion that will take you through hell and back.

And these are children. I turned to my husband, and saw the same reaction in his eyes. These boys need a home, need a mother and a father, need to be children. Decades ago, the UN defined the rights of a child. These children have been surely stripped of them all.

Last night, after watching that news bulletin, I went to sleep thinking of that eleven year old boy hiding in the bushes in Hungary. I feared that the local police will rough him up, the authorities will see him as a problem to be departed. I prayed to a God I no longer believe in, to look after that boy, to keep him safe. I think I prayed because I could think of no other immediate way that I could help that particular child.

To me he is a boy and I want to give him a home. I want to hold him and tell him it’s alright, we will look after him. I feel helpless in the face of an unfolding situation that is inhumane.