As we hear the news of 39 humans found dead in a lorry on Essex, as we turn our eyes to Turkey and the Kurds, Kashmir, Yemen, and many number of countries with whom we trade arms, we can maybe take a moment to read this.
Picture every one of the world’s weapons as part of a colossal web.
Barrel bombs. Recoilless guns. Rockets. Anti-aircraft missiles. Mines. Sarin.
Trace them from where they end up amid
voluptuous hills and ravaged cities, green fields and passes,
ruptured bodies and people breathing blood instead of air
to the man (for it is usually a man) with the rocket on his shoulder, finger on the enter button.
Pursue him to the one who gave the order and he who gave him his –
puppetry, the profit of the puppeteer.
Let him dangle in the tremoring tangle of triumphalism and what it will warp to
in the long nights of his life: slow death venom.
Trail their route – stolen from government forces when battles are won,
stacked in national air force planes, commercial flights or smuggled in lorries.
Stop off – Iran, Qatar, Iraq, Saudi, Turkey
(who keep some to themselves to settle old scores).
Humans like to stockpile what they haven’t exploited of war,
wind tight fractured limbs and caught hearts;
secret airlift from the former Yugoslavia where the tears of a hundred eyes
spring from the forests, where once ancient bridges are now nothing but stone
to where a woman jokes on an assembly line,
a man releases a substance into test-tubes.
Feel along that viscid twine:
steel and fire to base metal
to funding. High street banks and
stocks and shares. Pensions –
us dining out our retirements on spider morality tales
we refuse to hear, Arachnes hanging on twitching threads.
Becky Cherriman is a writer, workshop leader, mentor and performer based in Yorkshire. Her work has featured as libretto, in film, on umbrellas and on the walls of a recording studio and is widely published in journals and anthologies. In 2016 her poetry pamphlet Echolocation was published by Mother’s Milk Books and her first collection Empires of Clay by Cinnamon Press.