About the poet
In addition to writing poetry for both children and adults, John Mole (b. 1941) is an...
The son they love came home then went away.
They asked him why he cried out every night.
He didn't tell them and he couldn't stay.
They try to reach him but he'll never write.
They lie togther now. They sleep apart
And still, in dreams, each breaks the other's heart.
And still, in dreams, he's haunted by a child
That stood a moment, looked into his eye
Not guessing just how far he was defiled,
As if his combat jacket were disguise.
Don't let the little bastards get to you.
You know exactly what you have to do.
All wars are guilty of their own remorse
And have it out with us before they end.
Some may be just, no doubt. Of course.
In time your enemy becomes your friend.
But there are debts the future can't reclaim -
To kill a child and not know its name.
To kill a child that couldn't run away,
That stood a moment after it was shot
With puzzled human eyes as if to say
Like you I was so why now am I not?
Then fell. He shot the mother too.
It seemed exactly what he had to do.
And then it seemed exactly where to be
Was nowhere where he had to think of home,
The horror of the words meant lovingly,
The ignorant kindness everyone had shown.
Not only nightmares slay the innocent
And that's the reason why he came and went.
And that's the reason why this can't go on,
And why it's almost culpable to write,
And why I can't stop thinking of our son
And of how easily we sleep at night,
How in this house if anybody screams
We joke next morning. It was only dreams.
Oh only dreams that simply come and go,
That tell us nothing that we can't forget.
We lie beside each other snugly, two
Such comfortable, cautious parents, yet
There was a child who came and went away.
They said We love you but he could not stay.
from New and Selected Poems (Peterloo Poets, 2004), copyright © John Mole 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.
John Mole Reading from his Poems