Wednesday, 7 April 2010


over the hills and far away

I thought that I would write novels
and the words would march in disciplined ranks:
first the right flank, and then the left,
now the grand set piece.
But I am no Wellington
and my words are too turbulent, too unruly.

I tried to tame them in small groups,
tempting them with elegant plots and plans,
but they turned their backs on me, mutinous.
The stories neglected, shrivelled,
and I lost heart.

Unbidden, the words escaped
into a disciplined world. I was strict and
to my surprise, the words snapped to attention
and offered their services.
They described their skills:
forward observation
covert surveillance
covering fire

I tried to dissuade them:
"It is a hard choice that you have made...
there will be no glory, no drums, no medals.
You will go out into unexplored lands
and into the homes of the unknowing.
Sometimes it will be unbearably long
before you return. You will be misunderstood
and taken hostage. Sometimes you will fail.
There is no armour."

They laughed at me, those rebel words.

And still I fretted:
"You must be polished.
You need more training.
You must stand up straight.
You need a map.
You must show respect."

They could wait no longer.
Turning their faces,
they set off along the stony road
and took me with them.