As if in a dream I hear the radio playing Ukranian patriotic songs

Michael Rosen

born 1946
As if in a dream
I hear the radio playing Ukranian patriotic songs
and lovingly produced discussions
about the history of Ukraine
and admiration pouring out of my radio and TV
for the brave people of Ukraine
daring to stand up to this terrible invasion
and I felt warm and sad at the same time
wrapped in the care and kindness of it all
and I was pouring out my admiration too,
and images of the TV came to me from last night
of hundreds of people squashed into a station subway
trying to get out on a train to Poland
and more sounds from the radio of people on the border
shivering and hungry and crying
not knowing if they could get out
while arcs of light flashed over apartment blocks
and the morning showed the cold gray ruins of people's homes
and I heard the words of sympathy
from our leaders
while they explained that Ukranians
would need visas or relatives in Britain
if they want to come here
and I wasn't sure that people crushed
into the subway would have visas
or relatives here, would they?
so if they don't have visas and relatives
what happens to them in the freezing cold
on the Polish border?
and I thought about the care and kindness
coming out of my radio
and I felt uneasy
that I remember other invasions and other bombings,
and the same radio and TV stations
pouring out hours of words
on why similar bombings and invasions
were necessary and good bombings and invasions
and why those resisting were crazy and bad
and of course - as always -
why there wasn't room for
people of those countries
to get out and come here
and I was left looking for the principle being defended here.
This principle can't be that it's  wrong to invade
other countries.
The principle can't be that it's wrong
to bomb civilians.
The principle can't be that we must help
those who resist invasions.
The principle can't be that we must help
refugees.
But then I thought,
what's the matter with me?
what is the matter with me? 
why am I looking for a principle?
Well, not a principle that lasts
or a principle that is valid in all places.
Our leaders' principles are things
they pick up, boast about and then drop
in the hope that we can't remember anything
from before last week.
Or that we don't notice what else they do
in other parts of the world.
One moment they are friend with people
who are tyrants or backers of tyrants
snd the next they are explaining to us
that the tyrants are tyrants
and the friends of tyrants are friends of tyrants
as if we didn't  know that the tyrants are tyrants
and that they themselves are friends
with the friends of tyrants
as if we hadn't noticed this
as if we had forgotten this.
And this is a cycle
that goes on turning,
it's turning in my mind
remembering my parents
talking of the leaders of their town
chumming up with Nazis
corporations selling oil to Nazis
oil they would use to bomb us
and my parents talking of uncles and aunts and cousins
who criss-crossed the very same land
that the refugees are crossing now,
one who escaped
the rest who didn't
and it's a cycle
it's a cycle that grinds millions into the ground
burnt, dismembered, starved, maimed
and I am listening to the radio.
And I am listening to the radio.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: