by Sue Hampton, from her latest book ‘Rebelling for Life’ 2021 pub: TSL Publications.
No Faith in War
A poem written in a police cell after my arrest at Stop the Arms Fair DSEI 3/9/2019
My view is different now:
an open skyful, grubby white,
a flight path, torn with roaring.
I may be lying
on the road to hell.
Top left, the concrete’s dark, unyielding.
Right, leaves shift and shudder high.
Seagulls loop on the wind.
Magpies jut like chimneys from a roof.
And when I close my eyes, the darkness
is a scarlet weave.
I cross my legs to still the shaking.
Constrained by pain, my body’s resisting,
my hand caught tight around the lock
I hooked inside the tube
through a case that says Calvin Klein.
From the hotel, cars free to slide away
are low on my radar as cats.
Beside me leaves scud scratchy, close and wild.
Bound together in love, the three of us don’t talk.
The kit keeps us apart,
held in Quaker silence,
in hope, patience, conviction,
in the PEACE stitched vivid on a cloth without an altar.
My scalp and shoulders are pillowed now.
Under a banner linking legs on tarmac
and a scarf from a skip,
Around us, small but focused, a Meeting’s gathered.
I have no needs to meet
but smiles, a little conversation,
my father’s hand reaching down with the rest
to hold on.
And an end to this,
but not yet.
In Yemen roads are bloodied and skies
rain merchandise from merchandise.
We’re stopping the Arms Fair.
No weapons pass.
Plush and vast, the showroom space awaits unfilled
and this road is to Emmaus.
We did it.
Grandma did it.
I’m shielded under pressure.
A shower sparks firework red around my boots.
The cutters burn,
the air’s industrial.
The team in black crouch, sweat and struggle,
pass surgical tools for this theatre.
It’s tough, all of it,
their challenge, ours.
As an observer starts to cry,
I smile so Leslie knows I’m not afraid.
My fingers, trapped, arthritic, curl stiff at the core.
The drill rattles hard.
Heat circles my hand until I’m free,
escorted to the van.
My legs fold and sway
but I hear the cheers.
Handcuffed, I smile and make a peace sign
through closing doors.