Poems for Gaza

We are pleased to share two powerful poems written in response to the current situation in Gaza from Steve Taylor and from Paul Laverty. It we would have liked to accompany them with a third, Benjamin Zephaniah's 'Christmas has been shot', This was written some years ago and is tragically just as appropriate today, but we could not be sure of the copyright position. But look it up too and be convinced how much we will miss Benjamin in the months ahead.




Have you given it a thought since you left school?

Chalk is soft
part composed of tiny fragments
of calcite shells and skeletons of plankton.
Easily pulverised.

It washes off with the rain.
Does it wash away with tears?

Children are soft
part bone, (protein, collagen, minerals especially calcium)
Easily pulverised.

Gaza as a snow-globe,
the World stares in.
Every flake a shrapnel piece
tiny dots inside
scramble over new formed piles
like ants on a hill.

Do you feel that pang in the pit of your gut
each morning as the screen lights up,
and the numbers mount?
Do you go to bed and do not sleep
because all you see in the pitch
are twisted limbs under rubble
split parched lips oozing choked wails
a slow death you would not wish on a dog?

Do you feel a fury that makes your body shake
your soul scream out
your brain boil hotter
than US made phosphorous weapons
(remember the 172 billion from Uncle Sam that
breathed life into Apartheid)
as Biden, Sunak, Starmer and their ilk
call for “more precision”
as they drop Bunker Busting Bombs on Gaza,
6,300 souls per square kilometre
forty seven per cent children?

Children are soft.
Easily pulverised.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Do you sit in your kitchen
and wonder who you are
what to do
as the United Nations charter, the Geneva convention
are used as toilet paper
by the suited colluders of Death
who defecate on dignity.

Does the black hole of near despair
sap your strength and make you want to hide?
“A fat lot of good
that’s going to do”
We hear the Gazan kids decry.

Remember childhood.

Pick up a piece of chalk.
Simple, physical.
Not digital, not a tweet,
Not a blog.
Flesh on chalk.

It fits in your pocket, down a sock,
in your purse,
take it on a walk.

Walk the chalk……

Feel mind and body connect
as you hold it in your hand
What does that breeze carry?
Faint whispers from under rocks.

What would Gazan children say to us,
if they had that piece of chalk?
Turn our street into a blackboard
Write it up by bus stop, on a pavement, on a wall.
In your work canteen, or toilet
in your car park or a mall.

Street by street
from the bottom up
from the village to the City’s thrall
let the furious cries of the Gaza kids
sweep over one and all.

A little piece of chalk
in a hundred tongues
a million hands
up against their lies and bombs
a chalky trail of conscience
“No, not in our Name!”
to bring the murderers down.

One day, Child Killers, you will stand in the dock.
Remember the haughty grins of Argentine Torture Generals
in their prime?
Ended up in cuffs, at last.
It takes its time, The Justice Clock
but it ticks on as you turn grey.
Failing which
on your deathbed, on your last breath
you won’t escape the gaze of the Gaza kids
whose childhood you betrayed.

Ashes to ashes, dust to chalk.


Paul Laverty, Edinburgh 19 December, 2023


Despite fashioning a white flag of surrender
And waving it in Starmer’s direction
The Campaign Group of Labour MPs
Were murdered anyway, the flag being mistaken
As support for the common ownership
Of the means of production, distribution
And exchange. The possibility of peace, perhaps?
An end to exploitation? Rights, in general?
Starmer does not negotiate with socialists

Steve Taylor

Photos: Steve Eason

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