As Long As Men Do Likewise

She faces them fearlessly, flowers in her hand.
A thin, pale-eyed girl in a thin cotton dress.
They face her, a phalanx of hard, stone faces,
rifles at the ready. She thrusts the flowers
at them, pleading silently for one of them,
just one, to acknowledge her, to smile
or wink – better still, to take the sad bouquet.

A human connection, a moment of decency
to alleviate the savage stand-off.
But she, they and we know that
this will never be as long as men follow
their leaders’ lies – as long as flowers
live and die, as long as men do likewise.

Bill Fitzsimons