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A Song Of Broken Leaves

How can you carve a face from air

is it merely seeing something

which is not there –

just lines and curves falling

from despair –

but those eyes consider mine

with curiosity not blind

to this skin parched by time

how does air summon radiance

into rough dreams of shadow

tracing shades softly into lips

which cling to pallid skies

atop the horizon of a jaw

as light combs dust upon a brow

ivory notched by amber serenades

how does air give countenance

to where once emptiness

tarnished only silver silences

now a song of broken leaves

is wrung from this mouth

so near to me

as eyes shimmer with the quickness

of the candle’s flame

spilling twilight into mine

I watch unfettered suns

slowly climb

from cloud to flesh

while air wove a dim sound

around this figure unbound


poured from fossil phantoms


under rhymes of blood

hues of bronze

from the mind’s shallow wells

is carved from air

this trembling mirror

into which I stare.

Published by Writer of fiction about Irish terrorism and the lives it damages.

This trilogy of novels will be set during the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ I always wanted to read. Having changed an aspect of ancient history (Constantine chose Mithras over Christ in 312 CE) this ‘butterfly effect’ freed me of the fetters of recent history and able to craft a counter-factual novel. A tale of working-class lives caught up in the deadly maelstrom of sectarian violence. While the focus is on characterisation, ‘The Bitter End of Dreams’ explores internecine violence, as well as the beliefs and fears which drive ordinary people to murder. Young lives seduced into joining paramilitary organisations and committing terrible acts of violence. Elements such as protection rackets, and the shadow of political and religious leverage also loom within the story. While the primary religion, and some names, is different, the hatred and violence remains very real and familiar. To date, most novels on the ‘Troubles’ have been post-conflict. My novel is set during the mid 1970s and fixes its gaze firmly upon the cramped terraces from where paramilitarism entraps young people, and, subtly, oppresses communities. I recently retired after over thirty years service in the RUC and PSNI. I was exposed to a number of terrorist incidents in which colleagues and members of the public, sadly, lost their lives. My novel began as a part of therapy to manage my diagnosis of Complex PTSD. While ‘The Bitter End of Dreams’ focuses on one side of the community, a second novel will explore the opposing community. A final novel will be written from a policing perspective. I have also written a number of poems centering on the pain and grief which continues to ripple from the ‘Troubles’. During my service I have striven to understand the ideologies of both Irish and Northern Irish paramilitaries: how they justify murder and extortion. To do this I have spoken to many paramilitaries - on both sides of the conflict. I hope my novel sheds a little light upon the dark heart of religious violence; not only in terms of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, but also on a global context.

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