My poem FUNERAL was inspired a memory of my time as a United Nations Peacekeeper in Southern Lebanon during the early 1990s and I am really happy that it has been selected by Ciaran Carty (Editor) at the ‘Hennessy New Irish Writing’ and published today 17 July 2013 in their supplement of the Irish Independent newspaper. All poems and stories published in ‘New Irish Writing’ are eligible for the annual Hennessy Literary Awards. This is great encouragement for me, the fact that my poems about Irish soldiers peacekeeping around the world in hostile and sometimes very dangerous situations are being noticed! Thank you to everyone for the support and encouragement.
I hope you like the poem.
It’s thirty-five degrees – boots off,
too hot to work outside, too tired to move.
I’m watching the recording of a World Cup
Giant black flies begin to attack
crawling on my feet,
the more of them I kill
the less peace they give.
I have an arsenal of names for them,
they treat me like the dead.
On the road above my billet
the resistance is marching.
I see them through the window,
all dressed in funeral black,
hear them yelling and chanting,
slapping their chests.
They swarm around pick-up trucks
and Mercedes cars,
sporting RPGs and automatic weapons,
bursting the heavens with gunfire,
another martyr is on his way.
Piles of bodies hold the floor at my feet,
the newspaper is blood smeared
but still they come,
the weapon no good against the tide.
The funeral is louder, more intense,
all commentary lost in emotions,
I reach for my helmet and gun,
in a moment the shells will start falling.
Michael J. Whelan
Published in ‘Hennessy New Irish Writing’ – Irish Independent Newspaper, 27 July 2013
Photo: Michael J. Whelan – Lebanon