Read introduction

NBH is New Broadcasting House, where from August-December 2013 I wrote stories for BBC Radio News. I also like the way the letters resonate with GBH - which English readers will know stands for Grievous Bodily Harm - the name of a violent offence in English law.

This poem relates to incidents in the Gaza Strip (2002), Baghdad (2006) and the trial of two men accused of killing Lee Rigby, an off-duty soldier killed outside his barracks in south east London in May 2013.


Screen_shot_2017-12-05_at_08.50.24by Patrick Howse08 Dec 2013

Playful stones thrown
By small children
Bounce harmlessly
Off our backs.

Now bullets skip

In the ruins

Of the freshly

Flattened homes;

And a tree stands

Alone among the

Concrete Rubble,
Growing green.

* * * *

I'm running by the river
That watered Eden;

Its reeds whisper

Of Babylon.

A body is dragged up the
Stone embankment;

It leaves a wet

Brown stain behind;

It stares to heaven, looking

In vain for mercy,
A round hole drilled
In its forehead.

* * * *

Hour after hour I find
New ways to say
The soldier’s head
Was hacked off.