Earth Voices, Whispering by Michael J Whelan

After, when there is time
and space in our hearts,
we will visit the ground
where they were lost,
to find where they rest
among the standing monuments
to stupidity.

There will be time then,
as there always is,
to have dialogue with the dead,
to prepare our apologies,
to camouflage the cracks
in those same shattered hearts.

And, as before,
when we arrive there
in that broken time,
maybe, just maybe,
it will come to pass
as our fingertips touch the grass,
that we will become silent,
that we will finally listen.

(In response to ‘Earth Voices Whispering: An Anthology of Irish War Poetry 1914-1945’ – Edited by Gerald Dawe. The poem’s title is taken from a line in Thomas Mac Greevy’s poem ‘Nocturne’ on pg. 90 of the anthology.)

Michael J Whelan

Michael J. Whelan is a historian and soldier-poet living in South Dublin, Ireland. He deployed as a United Nations Peacekeeper with the Irish Defence Forces to the conflicts in Lebanon and Kosovo in the 1990s. He holds a Masters Degree in Modern History from NUI Maynooth and is keeper of the Air Corps Military Museum and collector of oral history for the Military Archives of Ireland Oral History Programme. His poems are published Australia, Paris, Mexico, USA, UK, South Africa and Ireland and included in ‘And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry, (Paris 2015) & ‘The Hundred Years War: Modern War Poems’ (Bloodaxe UK) 2014. He was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series and was 2nd Place Winner of the Patrick Kavanagh & 3rd in the Jonathan Swift Awards. He has featured on T.V. and radio and at literary festivals and his debut collection ‘Peacekeeper’ was published in 2016 by Doire Press. His second collection ‘Rules of Engagement’ was published in 2019.

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Twitter: @MichaelJWhelan1