What you see has meaning
grows larger than life
We were standing just across from them
outside Arrivals, the two of us,
like everybody else in the long queues
for buses to the airport car parks,
finding space for ourselves inside the crush,
watching our bags, noticing a chill
in the air again, cracking worn-out jokes
and sharing stories with total strangers
the way you do, but all the time thinking
of getting home, turning our door key
in a lock we knew would open. The one thing
nobody jokes about, because it matters.
They were wearing soot-black combat fatigues,
body armour, boots that gave them the look
of storm-troopers and they were armed:
hand-guns, batons, snub-nosed automatic
weapons with pistol grips, a long-barrelled
sniper rifle with telescopic sights,
the kind of mailed-fist warning you can’t avoid
seeing on the streets of other countries,
places you wouldn’t choose to call your own.
Invisible behind dark glasses, their eyes
gave us a once-over as they passed,
one muttered something, the others grinned.
Tar them all with the same brush
wink when you call it freedom
If you have any comments on this poem, Ken Head would like to hear them.