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
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
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
Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond –a rewrite of an older poem
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
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
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
As I have said before, I love good poetry that is also somewhat scientific. Well, Archaeology is a science (and one I love to follow) —and so I’d like to share this excellent poem with you. It’s by ‘Notamigrant’ at https://notamigrant.wordpress.com/
I am only a second of a woman
Less interesting collection of bones
But one day I be really famous
More beautiful than a precious stone
A handsome man will stumble across me
His hands strong with protruding veins
Carefully brushing particles of me
Until he sees the last tiny grains
At that moment it becomes so obvious
I have completely lost my skin!
My blood, my organs, hardy muscles
Oh, God, where do I begin?
But the handsome man is not at all bothered
His hair has sweated and sun has tanned his skin
He puts me carefully in a sachet
That is how much I am worth to him.
The photo I’ve chosen is from Pegwell Bay in Kent, where a set of Bronze Age burials have been identified as people of non-british origin (not migrants at all). Eight are believed to have been born in what is now southern Norway or Sweden. Another five came from the western Mediterranean, possibly Spain or even North Africa. We have always been part of a wider Europe. (https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/bronze-age-burials-in-kent-mainly-by.html)
He haunts me
A young boy
A lad like mine
Seen on the news bulletin
Scrambling over razor wire
Raised to protect Fortress Europe
From the migrant tide
From him and his like
But these were children, boys
Far from home, searching for safety
Fleeing from disaster
Other ghosts have returned
Toddlers the size of newborns
Eight year olds that look like toddlers
Flies settled on their blank eyes
Pot bellies distended with death
Once more I weep
As the news plays on
Once more I am ashamed
To live in paradise
While the majority suffers
Watching their children die
Or sending them on a perilous journey
I don’t have to send my son away
Across a continent
To avoid death
To avoid being forced to be a soldier
To avoid starvation, disease
To escape that ultimate killer
But if I believed that his safety
Is to leave home
Go through immense danger
To reach the promised land
I would surely send my son away
To take that journey
Hope will take you through hell and back
These are children
Those travelling boys need a home
Need mother and father
Need to be children
These children have been surely stripped of it all
I weep for the starving, denied a life
I give money for aid and comfort
Is that aid and comfort to me as well?
Am I a Good Samaritan?
Or just trying to salve a conscience as I continue with my life?
Each night I wake thinking of that boy hiding in the bushes in Hungary
I pray to a God I no longer believe in
Look after that boy, to keep him safe
I want to give him a home
I want to hold him and tell him it’s alright
That we will look after him
I need so much to treat him as my own
We are all family in the end
All human beings on the road
Between birth and an ending
We are each but a moment way
A moments bombing from displacement and death
I feel helpless in the face of an unfolding situation that is inhumane
Copyright © 2016 Kim Whysall-Hammond
Written and posted in response to Peter Notehelfers ‘A Voice for the Voiceless poetry Challenge’.
Written for a boy I saw on the news many months ago and for the starving children in Yemen today.
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.