They waited at the busstop
Boisterous with drink
Casually dressed as if
Going to the beach.
I heard one mention Iraq.
Three lads, probably eighteen years old
Though looking much younger.
‘What bus’ll take me to Kirkhouse?’ I asked
‘You’ll catch ours,’ the fair-haired one said.
He came over and stood by me.
‘I’m goin’ to Basra in a couple of weeks
I’m really lookin’ forward to it…’
His voice sounded less sure.
The Newcastle bus drew in -we climbed on.
They flicked through their girlie magaz.
The next stop, an elderly woman got on
They craned to see if they might
have to offer her a seat.
Settled back to their ogling.
At the Sands, the girl smiled
kissed her boyfriend goodbye
‘Courtin’ now are we eh?’
‘None of your business, is it?’
‘Didn’t know you were goin’ out with him.’
What’s it got to with you anyway?’
‘You wouldn’t go out with me when I asked you
Said you’d rather give me a kick in the crotch.’
Everyone laughed, a silence settled…
Like lambs to the slaughter
They’d soon march away
Their youth and their beauty
would wither and fade
What was lost by pure reason
Would be won by true might
And the sound of the gunfire
would echo through night.
The moon would look down
on the good, and the ill
And the rivers with tears
of the angels would fill…
And an owl would swoop low
And the willows would weep
And the roses would bloom
in the garden of sleep…