Three Poems by Peter Branson



No laughter on the stairs that day you find

her in her room. She’s gazing out towards

the old churchyard, a weird look on her face

you’ve never known before, resigned, world-wise

beyond her years. She’s staring at the grave

her brother fills. You’ve heard her many times,

imaginary friend, small talk, but now

you realise she’s speaking to a ghost.

They say when one twin dies the other’s drawn

into the shadow-space . No Christian rite,

no prayers, good work or  penance can suffice.

You’re educated, modern, westernised,

too proud to dabble in blood sacrifice.

Week later, doesn’t wake; no warning signs.




Is it well-earned, your claim to fame? Most times

it’s not. The high class madam or the back-

street tart, you hawk a vision of yourself,

pay dirt, or others do. Real thing, fools’ gold,

no mind, the word made flesh, you’re feted, play

your part. We’re animals, you’re visitors:

rabbits, we stare; sheening, you gaze straight through.

We’re sure who we can trust (Taste wanes). You’re sleek,

pre-occupied and rich beyond the need

to know. Air-brushed, red carpet fluff, you’re all

the rage. Time warps and wounds: the stolen shots

expose; you’re anybody’s, that’s the price

you pay; you have no privacy outside

your gilded cage. Scandal! Hold the front page!



The Haditha Massacre

For Woody Guthrie


Haditha, Iraq, where 14 men, 3 women & 7 children were killed, Nov 24th, 2005.


Come all fair-minded people,

pray listen to my song,

You police a foreign country,

How things go badly wrong.


Small town down by the river,

no special claim to fame,

Till US troops were ambushed

And one of them was slain.


A passing car got peppered

Beneath a blazing sun.

Five bodies were recovered

But not one single gun.


They stormed the nearby houses

And heard their sergeant say

“Fire first, ask questions later,”

For someone had to pay.


Bad apples in a barrel,

The warning signs ignored,

Each time we turn a blind eye

Means bigger trouble stored.


Three women, seven children

And fourteen men lay dead.

The youngest still a toddler,

Aged one, the locals said.


It’s hard to find excuses

when so much blood was shed.

Yet no one has been punished,

No justice for the dead.


They shot some at close quarters,

A bullet in the brain.

An old man in a wheelchair

Was numbered with those slain.


I don’t know why we came here,

I’ve no idea at all,

‘less it’s for the money men

Who buy and sell our our oil.






Peter Branson