Poetry Challenge #7 24/06/2012 CAT CALLS

photo credit google images

And there they are the faces,
The last vestige and traces,
Of men/women brought asunder,
By all our foreign plunder.
All the Lance Corporals,
The private, soldier, trooper
18, 18, 18, 20, 26, 22, 28, 20, 24,
My age. Eyes fill with tear rage,
And I remember,
When I wore a uniform
And saw the boys born,
The same year as me,
Hiding behind a tree,
Staring through their sight,
Helmet pulled tight,
Crouched behind a wall,
Not issuing a cat call.

Catherine Brogan


photo credits google images

Where to start on this poem it describes the oddness that was the troubles . There is far too much HISTORY to document the  reasons for  “The Troubles”. What I will say is that they started back in 1688: William of Orange arrives
The British invite William of Orange, a Protestant prince from the Netherlands, to rule England and Scotland. When he arrives in Britain James II – the ruling, Catholic king – is deposed and flees to Ireland. In 1690 William defeats James at the Battle of the Boyne, in north-eastern Ireland, after which the Protestants who fought alongside William are known as Orangemen. The battle is commemorated every July12 with Orange marches.
Since then so many things have happened.  1916: The Easter Rising,1919-1922: The war of independence, and partition,1922-26: Civil war and a split in Sinn Féin,1969: The Troubles begin in Northern Ireland
The Royal Ulster Constabulary attacks a Catholic civil rights protest. Counter-demonstrations by Protestant loyalists – so called for their “loyalty” to British rule – lead to escalating violence. Frustrated by what they see as the passivity of the IRA’s leadership, some members form a new group, which they call the Provisional IRA.
1971-72: Internment and Bloody Sunday,November-December 1974: The Birmingham bombings,The 1980s: Hunger strikes,1993-94: Independence declared and another ceasefire,July 1995: Riots over marches,February 9 1996: Ceasefire collapses The IRA bombs Canary Wharf in London, July 1997: Ceasefire restored,April 1998: The Good Friday agreement The Good Friday agreement is reached on April 10 1998,July-August 1998: Violence and the Omagh bombing,December 2004: Decommissioning deal unravels,2005
February: The IRA withdraws its offer to complete decommissioning. In April Gerry Adams appeals to the IRA to continue the deal.
,… That was a bad year. So a long and sordid business  not to mention what Cromwell did to the Irish and the plague of the potato famine .

It has been a bad patch of Anglo Irish history. That aside the poem speaks of the young soldiers sent to Ireland on the streets of Ulster in uniform and carrying weapons coping with lads and lasses their own age, older people they should respect. The people of Ulster not wanting the soldiers there and the soldiers not wanting to be there either. Sad a very sad chapter of history, you can read about it here .

Young men patrolling strange streets exchanging glances and thoughts with young people so near to them in age. As in all war too many deaths young and old for no good reasons!


Catherine Brogan  is a performance poet from Omargh, Northern Island , who now lives in London. She was born in 1985. Her poetry reflects on the violence in Northern Ireland referred to as often, a conflict, a war but more often than not “The Troubles”.


Poetry Challenge #7 is to create a journal of links and your reactions to poems by established (living or dead poets.) Details are here.  Example response is here. Mr. Linky for Challenge #7 is directly below:

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