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LANDSCAPES OF WAR AND PEACE - Michael J. Whelan

LANDSCAPES OF WAR AND PEACE – Michael J. Whelan

Poetry exhibition  LANDSCAPES OF WAR & PEACE 1914-2014: WAR POETRY & PEACEKEEPING  by Michael J. Whelan will be on display at Castletymon Library Tallaght, County Dublin for the month of August 2015.

Echoes - Michael J. Whelan - RLBF 2014

Echoes – Michael J. Whelan – RLBF 2014

The exhibition is being run by South Dublin Libraries and is currently touring the county. The exhibition features many poems inspired by events during the poet’s tours of duty as an Irish United Nation’s Peacekeeper in South Lebanon and Kosovo in the 1990s and others inspired by the Great War (WWI) and material covering conflicts over the 20th Century.

The exhibition was designed by David Power of South Dublin Libraries/ Red Line Book Festival 2014 and Michael J. Whelan. The exhibition is currently running in Lucan Library till the end of July.

http://www.southdublinlibraries.ie/find-library/castletymon

No entry fee

All welcome

 

 

Flock of Gulls - Michael J. Whelan

Flock of Gulls – Michael J. Whelan

 

IRISH MARTYRS IN LEBANON

 

(After conversations with Lebanese exiles -)

 

 

Some words we don’t read them,

we taste them

deep into our souls,

some bring back our missing memories,

our loved ones to our hearts.

 

Many times I saw their wives and mothers

lay flowers in my country

near the places of their martyrdoms.

 

My heart is like a room

big enough to receive many visitors.

My heart is a wing

to fly your martyrs on,

to reach heaven

 

to make them meet at the river,

to hug and kiss their children,

to sacrifice and water their thirsts

of a land with pure blood

spilled far from home

 

flowing from peacekeepers

into the valleys of my country

where the cedar grows forever

and remembers everything.

 

Michael J. Whelan

Published in A NEW ULSTER magazine, issue 34, July 2015

Michael J. Whelan - poet, Tibnine Castle, South Lebanon 1994

Michael J. Whelan – poet, Tibnine Castle, South Lebanon 1994

 

GRAVEYARD SHIFT

 

On the rooftops in the night

under trembling flares

heavy raindrops curtain bomb

the ponchos of peacekeepers

on the graveyard shift,

standing fast like cold statues in the dark

scanning dead ground

through mist tinted glasses.

 

Michael J. Whelan

Published in A NEW ULSTER magazine, issue 34, July 2015, edited by Amos Grieg

 

Bunker S. Lebanon, 1994. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

Bunker S. Lebanon, 1994. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

TANK

 (Civilians move to shelter in U.N. bomb shelters)

 

Thick black smoke

splutters out above the compound,

the beast is moving, ready to fire,

we hear it cough before seeing it

and the clanking of a metal monster on tracks,

exhaust clouds follow along the hill’s horizon

poisoning the sky behind the perimeter wire.

We know where it is – what it’s thinking

long before its deafening report

screams back across the valley,

sending the shaken to the underground.

 

 Michael J. Whelan

Published in A NEW ULSTER magazine, issue 34, July 2015, edited by Amos Grieg

 

Early Bird minesweep Lebanon: Michael J. Whelan

Early Bird minesweep Lebanon: Michael J. Whelan

THE SNAKE ROAD

(Irish area of operations- south Lebanon 1990s)

 

It wound out like the long

wriggling body of a reptile, treacherous.

Most mornings it had to be swept for roadside bombs

by the Early Bird team, the snake could bite.

At dawn they would set out,

walking the length of the living thing

with electronic mine detecting gear, slowly,

the lead sweeper swinging the Valon

from left to right continuously,

like a doctor with a stethoscope

listening carefully on ear pieces for a change in tone.

Medics, bomb disposal and armed security elements

following at a safe distance

in case of booby-traps,

it happened many times,

all under the scornful guns of warring factions.

The only protection a blue flag

that didn’t always work.

 

Michael J. Whelan

Published in A NEW ULSTER magazine, issue 34, July 2015, edited by Amos Greig

Damaged house Kosovo, 2001. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

Damaged house Kosovo, 2001. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

 

KOSOVO

 

Green shoots

why do you grow

in the rubble of this house,

while hearts are breaking,

does God not see

our tears falling on the ground

near the stony road

that ceases at one side of the river

and commences on the other,

where great armies once crossed

to be forgotten,

in this land that forged a village

and civilised it;

then forged the swords

that killed it,

where the blackbird died slowly

in the eagle’s grip,

screaming as the beak

pierced the flesh of its breast.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

Published in A NEW ULSTER magazine, issue 34, July 2015, edited by Amos Greig

 

 

United Nations Position - Lebanon, 1994. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

United Nations Position – Lebanon, 1994. Photo: Michael J. Whelan 

CENTURIES KEEP WATCH

 

Inside our wire

a great anthill keeps the curved ground rising,

an army breaking the horizon

behind the sandbagged wall.

We are nothing to it

except when we too seek shelter

beneath the tremoring  ground

and  the big guns point our way.

 

Outside the bunker centuries keep watch,

while columns of soldier-ants

reach far into the future and the past,

their long black lines marching up

and down the mountain over this defence post,

conquering palisades, barbed wire and borders,

pouring through cracks in reinforced blast walls,

in and out like a two way shipping route

with the carved up parts of their enemies

and the spoil of a million wars.

 

If I was to smash this colony with my rifle

where then would the fair winds take its remains,

would it leave dust on the roof of my mouth,

its scouts swarming through my nights

in a rage of retribution?

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

Published in A NEW ULSTER magazine, Issue 34, July 2015  A NEW ULSTER magazine, Issue 34

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