A Poem a day – 24 October 1981

Chelsea Barracks BombI have often put the date and time on poems and this provides a useful insight into times, places and events that led to the writing of the poem. This one from 1981 was written shortly after the Chelsea Barracks bombing in London. Terrorist attacks were well-known in the UK in the 1970’s and 1980’s and unfortunately continue today. I suppose this poem was born out of the frustration I felt and still do at the way innocent people always suffer while the politicians just talk and rarely seem to be targeted by these individuals. The title ‘The Empire is Peace’ (1852) is a quote from the Emperor Napoleon III as he sought to establish the second empire in France. It tried to reassure the rest of Europe that the new empire would be peaceful, however by 1853 he was involved in the Crimean war. So much for the words of politicians and statesmen. Nothing really changes.

L’Empire C’est La Paix

A body shattered by circumstances

Lies lifeless in the street.

The grey sky, full with rain

Begins to shed

The tears of the world

A phone call to a paper

Responsibility is claimed

How can any humans

Pride themselves in a malicious act?


Are they human?

Tonight a family will weep,

A group celebrate ‘victorious’.

The suburban war continues, unchecked,

By the men in high places

Who pride themselves on their efforts for

Life love and the pursuit of happiness.

What can be done to resolve the question?

This inner corruption that gnaws at society,

From inside.

Must we wait and pray

And go on

Living and partly living.

Leeds, 24 October 1981


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