It seems very much like a total contradiction of terms and poetry genre but this is how I remember my time as an Irish United Nations Peacekeeper in the Middleast (Lebanon) and a Peace Enforcer (so to speak) in the Balkans (Kosov0). I am remembering it now and I am writing it now and you are reading it now. Obiously I wasn’t prepared then, while I was there as young Irish soldier. Obviously I must have been recording it somehow, subconciouly maybe, but the experiences and landscapes stayed with me, in me until now, and so it comes out, out of my mind onto paper because it never came out through my mouth. This is my way of telling the story as I experienced it, witnessed it, belonged to it…I wasn’t at war but I was a part of wars….so this in effect I suppose is my War Poetry. It is the voice I hope of many Irish Peacekeepers who served in these countries and others over the last fifty years.
Below are two links to on-line literaure magazine, The Galway Review & Three Monkeys On-Line, who recently published some of my poems (4 in all)
The poem GRAPES OF WRATH describes an infamous moment in South Lebanon, one of many, when artillary shells hit a United Nations Peacekeepers camp, while it sheltered hundreds of people seeking refuge from the fighting. THE RAIN HAS COME & ECHOES came out of Kosovo and were both inspired by the the mass graves, the missing, the empty villages and the stories of ethnic cleansing I heard while stationed there and also the newsfeeds of the wider Balkan hurt.
The poem THE TIDE came out of Lebanon, it is from one of those surreal memories from my time in Lebanon almost twenty years ago now. How my mother wrapped me in safety before I left Ireland, in her eyes, with religious icons etc. The scene reflects a series of moments spent on the coast near the Israeli border at Naquora while on a break from the hills and what I suppose on reflection I was doing there.
Michael J. Whelan