Saturday, 16 May 2020

Utter Futility

It Begins...

A sudden staccato crack of gunfire sears the evening skies
Then a cacophonic chorus of artillery and another baby dies
Warplanes screech across the heavens, bombing all around,
Helicopter gun ships wheel and clatter, strafing the innocents on the ground. For a civil war has erupted without a word of warning, death, fear and avarice herald this day’s dawning.
Soldiers (who once were neighbours) advance firing small arms from their hips.
Slaughters’ hideous laughter punctuated only when changing ammunition clips.
Homes, schools, and churches destroyed, crops in the fields burnt, livestock perish.
Friends, family and loved ones lost, there’s little left to cherish,
Save for the precious few survivors that fortune chose to save
Plucked by providence’s mercy, saved from a communal grave.
Towns and cities set ablaze and laid to total waste,
Scattered belongings strewn around, a testament to the haste
Of the people running wildly, abject fear upon their face
To search in vain for shelter, to find a safer place.
They look on helplessly as their villages are swept aside
Tiny homes, whole communities are crushed as this satanic ride,
The invaders war machine rumbles on scorching all within its path
And no amount of prayers and tears shall assuage its wrath.
But who hears the mournful cries of this beleaguered nation?
Condemned by greed and merciless hatred and war’s savage damnation?
Who’ll halt the invader in his tracks and this entire carnage end?
Who’ll silence NOW the winds of war and love and solace send? 

The Kindly Soldier…

One town’s sole survivor, a little girl under nine
Shuffles around purposelessly, covered in battles grime,
Her thin plain clothes are torn, raven tousled hair unkempt
Thirsty, cold, and hungry but no anger does she vent.
She looks up imploringly through dark and frightened eyes
Utterly lost and hopeless, but not a word she cries
Then, clutching her last possession, a mutilated rag doll
She reaches out her hand in hope and I take it willingly in mine. 

She tightly held my kindly hand and walked slowly by my side
We watched as waves of refugees trudged by, an ever-swelling tide
Though she scarcely took her eyes from mine, she wouldn’t speak a word,
Her experiences so private she’ll not let them be heard.
And though slowly life begins again (as does the singing of the birds)
Lonely flowers reach up for sunlight and in a little while
The little girl without a name permits a fleeting smile.
(But as vivid as those battered flowers she remembers... that vile staccato crack of gunfire searing the evening skies
And the chorus of Satan’s armoury as another baby dies)


Envoys come and envoys go, a fragile truce achieved
Now the fight is on for solace, comforting those bereaved
Comforting those whose lives are wrecked, those who know just grief
For those who have lost everything, kind words bring no relief
Aid workers toil for hour upon hour
Through the burnt-out towns and villages, they scour…
Seeking out the injured, the afraid and dour
And bring them to Field Hospitals, a tenuous safe bower.

Now civilian helicopters whirl around
Placing passengers on the ground
Television crews, reporters all the worlds’ press crowd
The remaining vestiges of the victims, short time ago so proud.
Microphones are thrust towards poor bandaged faces
The journalists all demand their stories (no time here for airs and graces)
All the sad tales of loved ones lost, the details of carnage harsh and gory
Revelling in the despondency the press in all their glory
Beam their broadcasts around the world
To a pious public, safe and sound, in front of television curled
As the news of untold horror is dramatically unfurled. 

But for the time being the ceasefire holds firm
Refugees leave their encampments and prepare to return
To their burnt-out piles of rubble that they once called home
Back to ancient homelands they reluctantly roam
Just in time for those winter winds that whistle and moan….


Very soon the pressmen pack up to leave
Their stories no longer topical (or so they believe)
Hurriedly erected satellite dishes all now disappear
The worlds’ fickle audience no longer lend their ear
For their attention has been so quickly diverted to another tragedy, all too soon forgotten this poor nation’s malady...
Dangerously too is forgotten the evil war lords pledged ambition,
To inflict once more violence, death, and attrition
And soon they make ready and of their own volition
Vampire-like they’ll strike again at a people still stricken
With anguish cold fear, empty hearts, doleful derision.
And so, the conflict continues though its intensity wanes and waxes
The futility of it all never lessens, never relaxes.
And while “allies” continue to supply either side with numerable tools of hate,
No lasting peace shall ever ensue nor shall suffering abate.

 The Kindly Soldier is redeployed…

And so, finally I settle her down with a foster family new
Reluctant at first to leave me but as her confidence grew
She slips her hand away from mine, fresh new adventures to pursue… 

I never saw that child again, I never said goodbye
I never kissed that tender cheek; she never saw me cry… 

I turned and walked away not daring to look back
Wondering if the ever the enemy would return once more to attack….

And then suddenly, a familiar staccato crack of gunfire sears across the sky...
And I think back in abject horror of the child I may have left to die… 


The idea of this piece of work was to create a fictitious civil war through an imaginary microscope and to observe the effects upon a community.

The shorter verses allude to switching to a greater degree of magnification to observe one fragile innocent child and how her private world had been so cruelly destroyed and how indeed in the end her own life may have been lost. I left her fate to the imagination.

I did not intend to focus on any particular theatre of armed operation or specific location however it does have resonance with the Balkans conflict and many people have likened the work to that conflict.

It could of course have been anywhere. Civil wars transcend race, fame and fortune and nationality barriers.

Christopher J Green
February 1992


  1. Civil war can be the bloodiest of all. sensless chaos. De humanising all things. Often degrading to ethnic cleansing .so many over time .Man's inhumanity to man .Cambodia, Siria, Bosnia,Yemen, so many ! Futile.

    1. Thank you for your comment Ray. My apologies for I have only just read this as so few bother to comment on my offerings. I agree with the sentiments you express in this respect.

      With best wishes,

      Chris Green