The World According to a Child Soldier (II)

The paper records showed that I was

Girl Eleven-Thousand-Two-Hundred-And-Seven and

I talked only to walls in an unknown language.


The children avoided the pew under the great oak tree

where I sat, knees bent, staring at

my notebook with many blank lines.


On a solitary battlefield, inside the rusty ceiling ghetto,

I learnt to hold my breath under water, counting the steamy bubbles

in the over-boiled dry wood soup.


Nobody had heard my voice until that afternoon

during the Propaganda Lectures when mister Opal stood me up

by the blackboard

to recite, loud and clear, verses from The Pupils’ Manifesto;

pages two, three and four.


The first page was missing but, coming to think of it,

all our books had the first page torn out.


Mister Brown Jacket lifted my chin up,

glared at my bitten fingertips and

dismissed the whole class.


In a cupboard behind the stairwell,

the world gave birth to a



The World According to a Child Soldier

In a well-typed-bold letter, with very little spelling mistakes,

the headmaster invited my father to a political chat.


This morning, I turned up in assembly bare feet, with a red notebook.

At half past nine I escaped through a window

during the weekly fire drill and

someone noticed me drawing a swastika on the toilet door.

It was the only detail I could remember

from the history lessons up to that point.


I spent the entire day up on a hill,

editing my own handwritten freedom-pamphlet,

in the company of a shepherd and his dog.


It rained at about three o’clock and the world smelled of people.

It smelled of my father in navy-blue overalls, pacing up and down

in the quiet corner of the school library.


That night I coughed and spat out a nuclear war,

a big lump of poetry stuck in my throat;

from a hospital bed, still in recovery.


The Tortures of Freedom

Let it be known. This morning another cultural revolution starts

with a fight between my sister and I

over a plate of stale breadcrumbs.


The newsreader recites the questions during

an imaginary interview with a war hero,

minutes of silence follow and then

the high pitched hissing noise of a boiling samovar.


Water and grain – the tortures of freedom for orphans and trees.


The view from the kitchen window captures the sea of people

steadily moving towards a distant border.


No school today. The bomb exploded on our playground,

the real fight carries on at the dinner table where

the rhythm of my unacceptable rebellion grows – rooted deep well.


I am packing for England grey maps, libraries and colours;

the neighbours say just essentials.

A world on foot in my satchel.

Tissue paper wraps up the infinite possibility of a one-way road.


I may be only a 50p biro but when your fingers

close about my clear plastic shaft –

thumb and fore fingers pressing down – I feel

the tremors vibrating through my dark juices

to my silver tip from where they flow

 into any shapes you want.  I may be cheap

but I’m as classy as you could ever crave.

–  I am wanton – and I know no rule –

so make me do what ever you desire –

               my sighs are silent  

I am your slave, don’t be afraid. 

I will reveal your darkest, sweetest,

             most hidden secrets

surprise you with what you didn’t know you knew. 

Be afraid and pass right through that thin skin

To Zanadu, to Paradise and Hell  –  yours,

to reveal the longing of now,

                   for ever and ever



What am I?

I am as chaste as snow, new fallen.

Upon me you may reveal all you dream, all you fear.

I await corruption or blessing, all the same to me.

I am no priest nor critic nor spying mother.

Look upon me and do what you will.

I will gift you reflection of your willingness

To smile, to cry, to reveal your secrets.

You may risk upon me with tenderness,

With longing.  Let them out.

All those miserable, trapped sinners.

I am a playground, an unexplored jungle.

Let yourself loose upon me.


Rick Vick



Indian Eye


If, for one blink

I saw as you see

in your cobalt eyes

I would die in that apparition.

Idea of self shatter to fragments.


You observe so closely, so remotely.

Is it ‘I’ that those lenses receive

Or some other arrangement of creation?

Meeting your un-blinking gaze

A black hole opens.

Never so l close as this where I come from –

The managed world.

Your dark discretion always at a distance

– branch or wire –

Or commanding your faultless composition

from way up there.


Here, in this random,

Clashed land of spiced hearts,

You reign, pecking on rotting corpse

or, as now, a few inches

from my plate of rice, unruffled.

Kra      Kra

you called your name,

long before human utterance.

I fade to a shade in the swoop

of your flight into your universe

with a grain of rice.








A film strip replayed over and over, the trip

we took to the park in London, you and I and the children.

in blustering October – leaves flying

– wishes the children ran to catch arms out stretched –

crying out in delight when they did, pressing them

to their chests and eyes closed, just as they do

each year cutting their birthday cakes,

making wishes in the innocence of their growing.

If only we could have endured our promises.

Did we know deep in our hearts,

our leaf unfurling lives, that

The trees of our trust, boughs interlaced,

were tipping apart, already askew

in the lonely forest.

The ledge

Some of you will have heard my poem “Moment”. Here is a picture of the ledge that I refer to in the poem.

Two climbers on the ledge

The ledge is near the top of a classic route called Flying Buttress, which climbs up 94 metres of a crag called Dinas Chromlech, a huge block of rock halfway up a mountain in North Wales.

The climb up to Dinas Chromlech. Flying Buttress is at the right hand edge.











Photos from Steve Pardoe’s Rock Climbing Pages

Trust and Betrayal

Hi all,

We have had some excellent submissions so far for “Trust and Betrayal” – the next edition of Pamphlet 15 – and I am now getting quite excited.

Rick would like to have it ready for the Cheltenham Poetry Festival which is at the end of April so we have to start getting ready for printing very soon. However, I don’t want to get into “publish or perish” mode so I thought I would be clear about the ‘rules’.

I have volunteered only to collate the pieces and prepare the pamphlet for printing. I will not make editorial decisions about inclusion.

To have a piece included I would like you to have read it out and discussed it in front of the group. I think it is important that we learn something both as reader and listener. Please don’t just send me a piece and ask me if it is okay.

Exceptions will only be made if you are already known to the group and you have a good reason for not coming along (e.g. if you are ill or going abroad or something).

If you have already read a piece out and got some feedback please send your latest version in the body of an email, or, if you want special formatting, in a document attached to the email.

If you want to have a piece included please bring it along to group next Tuesday 9th April.

If you want a piece included but are unable to come along send me the piece and I will read it out for you.

Good luck

LoL Random

Jesus and the Therapist Rabbi

Jesus: Therapist Rabbi, you have much experience in offering advice on relationships. So tell me this: is it normal if a man asks a woman to dust his penis with flour and then inspect it for fingerprints?

Therapist Rabbi: Ah, no. I don’t think that’s normal.

Jesus: Well mother didn’t seem to mind doing it to me!