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Irish Peacekeeper - Lebanon 1990s. Photo: (c)Michael J. Whelan

Irish Peacekeeper – Lebanon 1990s. Photo: (c)Michael J. Whelan

 

CHECKPOINT

 

The peacekeeper,

flak-jacket buttoned to the neck,

blue helmet fastened tight

under the chin,

rifle slung across the chest,

muzzle pointing at the distant ground,

trigger finger tensed

along the trigger guard

switched to automatic.

 

Alone he stands there,

holding the road

in front of wire entanglements

and tank-stops

in the narrow chicane

of a sun trapped checkpoint,

left arm raised high,

the palm of his hand

facing the threat.

 

Michael J. Whelan

Published recently in L.E. Poetry Magazine April 2017 issue  http://liveencounters.net/le-poetry-writing-2017/04-april-p-w-2017/michael-j-whelan-the-hero/

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Irish Peacekeeper on foot-patrol in South Lebanon -1990s. Photo: (c)Michael J. Whelan

 

ECLIPSED

 

You say I’m the hero.

I save you, saved your broken heart

but I am stilled,

eclipsed forever in a burst

of perfect colours,

a flash of brilliant light

where I am killed.

Ever waiting

in this living moment

I become the Universe

and all the world within.

I touch you

and I am saved again.

 

Michael J. Whelan

(In memory of Irish Peacekeepers

killed on U.N. Peacekeeping service in Lebanon)

 

 

Published in L.E. Poetry Magazine – April 2017 issue http://liveencounters.net/le-poetry-writing-2017/04-april-p-w-2017/michael-j-whelan-the-hero/

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Irish U.N. Patrol - South Lebanon c.1990s Photo by Michael J. Whelan

Irish U.N. Patrol – South Lebanon c.1990s.Photo by Michael J. Whelan

ROAD TO AT-TIRI

 (South Lebanon)

‘The sun is not to overtake the moon

nor the night to outstrip the day

and each swims in an orbit’ –Qur-an 26;33-58

 

 

Ancient minaret,  

sentinel monument marking

this splintered place. Village of the old,

counting days and mourning their dead,

the young flung to the corners of the Earth.

 

Beneath your silence quietly we pass

through battered streets,

guns pointed at the ground,

peppered walls keep your story.

 

Loud in flags of nations but enfeebled

by ghostly eyes whispering fear from the dying

our patrol follows the paths worn by many,

afraid to disturb their memories.

Our footsteps bear no echo

on this broken road.

 

Michael J. Whelan

Published recently in the USA as part of a sequence  in ‘From the Cradle of Civilization: Contemporary Arabic Poetry”, the fifth edition of Life and Legends’ http://lifeandlegends.com/cradle-civilization/

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

 South Lebanon 1990s. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

 

BLOOD SUN

 

They say ‘peacekeeping

is not a job for soldiers

 

but, only a soldier can do it.’

And tonight as the blood

 

sun goes down, spilling out

onto a hundred black horizons,

 

they steel themselves

rebuilding bunkers,

 

fixing strong defences

and pushing barbed-wire obstacles

 

across roads, preparing

for the reckoning.

 

Michael J. Whelan

Published by Mark Ulyseas in a sequence of poems titled ‘A Hundred Black Horizons’ in L.E. Poetry Magazine, February 2017

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Harvest Time - postcard - Lebanon 1990s

Harvest Time – postcard – Lebanon 1990s

 

HARVEST TIME

 

A 155mm shell

fired from northern Israel

collides with an orchard

in south Lebanon

 

villages shake

landscapes awake

and echoes

rush the wadii

 

fear clings to grass and stone

retaliation or a violation?

we listen for the small-arms fire

but there is only crying.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

Painting on a postcard, which I sent to my parents almost 25 years ago, titled ‘Harvest Patrol’ by Commandant J. Coates of 72 Irish Battalion UNIFIL. A postcard depicting Irish Peacekeepers protecting local Lebanese villagers during the olive harvest. This was dangerous work for them during the conflict.

Published by Mark Ulyseas in a sequence of poems titled ‘A Hundred Black Horizons’ in L.E. Poetry Magazine, February 2017

 

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UN Gear

Personal issue UN Gear – south Lebanon 1990s. Photo – Michael J. Whelan

SPINE

 

You think you hear them,

cursing through the air, searching,

bracketing where you are,

feel the impacts creeping closer in your brain

and your spine plays that game again

exaggerating your predicament.

Your mind’s a constant train

as you lay in your bunk

deciding at which point you should run.

 

Michael J. Whelan

(Incoming artillery, mortar & tank shells – Lebanon)

Published by Mark Ulyseas in a sequence of poems titled ‘A Hundred Black Horizons’ in L.E. Poetry Magazine, February 2017

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

Bunker S. Lebanon, 199os. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

IN THE DARK VALLEY

 

The reign of artillery

is about to fall

 

in the dark valley.

We cannot see

 

the fear

but hear

 

the groundhog

sirens wail

 

about the bunkers

night and day.

 

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

(Groundhog = during periods of intense shelling,

UN troops and civilians in the UNIFIL area enter underground bunkers)

Published by Mark Ulyseas in a sequence of poems titled ‘A Hundred Black Horizons’ in L.E. Poetry Magazine, February 2017

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