The Weapon and The Dove by David McVey

The language and imagery in this poem are beautiful – ‘a harsh shout raw like mince’ and ‘breathless latchkey kid’. It’s evocative of being a child and the man who’s ‘tall but hungry thin’ is vividly described. The poem successfully puts us in a time and place with the single piece of dialogue and the metaphor of the origami deftly pulls the piece together.

The Weapon and The Dove

We hurry home to watch Origami.

To learn the art of bending paper

to our will.  We walk in silence.

An argument (is The Saint or

James Bond toughest?) divides.

A harsh shout, raw like mince

comes from outside the High Kirk,

a cry of war. We stop and shrink

as an iron bar clangs, the clash

of battle, against the church railings.


He’s tall but hungry-thin.  His clothes

have holes, his teeth have gaps.

Greasy ginger hair; nicotine fingers

grasp the rusty weapon.  He’s older

than us, a year or two, and bars our

way.  He waves the bar and cries,

‘Ur Youse Prodissants or Kafflicks?’

We pause, don’t know how to answer.

I’m one, Alan is the other; and we don’t

know which he is. So we turn and run.


Breathless latchkey child, I let myself in.

No one’s home.  I grab bread and jampot,

Make a hurried piece, fetch paper,

switch on the telly.  Robert Harbin

weaves magic from paper.  Suki,

his assistant, mutely follows but fails.

I succeed. A dove; its wings move.

David McVey

David McVey lectures in Communication at New College Lanarkshire. He has published
over 120 short stories and a great deal of non-fiction that focuses on history and the
outdoors. He enjoys hillwalking, visiting historic sites, reading, watching telly, and
supporting his home-town football team, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy FC.



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