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A poem from 2008, in response to a rocket strike on the BBC's Baghdad bureau which narrowly missed me and several colleagues.
It was written in Scotland, as PTSD began to bite.
It was the first poem I had written for 25 years.

The Gusts

Screen_shot_2017-12-05_at_08.50.24by Patrick Howse04 Jan 2016

I. Loch Lubnaig

I saw it coming.
First the wave it made along the surface
I saw it running
Along the water scattering
Shining shards of light
Across the length of the water.

Then I heard it whispering.
In the waving branches
I heard it murmuring
In the pine trees that stood
Close by the side of the path
Casting their dark blue shadows.

Then I felt it coming.
But still it hadn’t reached me
I felt it, shivering,
Holding my breath in anticipation
Of the cold blast
That I couldn’t escape.

In my face the icy passing.
A slap-like blow
In an instant leaving,
Leaping on down the valley
As my breath escaped
And the sun shone.

II. Baghdad

I knew it was coming.
The Green Zone sirens
Blared their warning
Calling across the ancient Tigris
Spreading gentle ripples of terror
Through the womb of history.

I felt it speeding.
Through the dusty orange air
I heard it roaring
Making its cartoon clichéd wail
As it rushed to meet its noisy rendezvous
With a haphazard crash site.

Then I felt it screaming.
But still it hadn’t reached me
I felt it, shivering,
Holding my breath in anticipation
Of the hot blast
That I couldn’t escape.

In my face the fiery passing.
A slap-like blow
In an instant leaving
Clouds of debris and smoke
As my choking breath escaped
And everything went black.