An SOS from the frontier

An SOS from the frontier.


This is a message from the borderlands

an endless void a windswept land

like all deserts stripped bare of features.


So I whisper the message – If you could have heard

all that I’ve heard. If you could see all that I’ve seen
if you could have been there, far out there and if you

could have listened to peoples words, listened to those

broken hurting people and that place out there, in here,

in me, in you. The dark frontier, that secret place you know

I know, we know, we all know, but deny its existence.


But for me there is no choice. I cannot deny its imprint

on my mind, my memory is not blind, deaf or unfeeling.

But I wish sometimes that it might be so. Now what do I do

with these memories, the words I do not wish to store,

and hold like some mad treasure trove, archive of horrors

of mankind, of humankind the stories told and told again,

The faces change but the pain and fear, the words remain.


It’s unending, it’s our narrative as long as we survive

this story will evolve and grow for we are humans.

I worked amongst the desolation, fragments,

survivors, of lives that might have flowered.

And that endless unknowing of what might have been

of who would I have been if that had not been done

to me, to who I was, a child, and unsuspecting.


Imagine the innocence and the quiet trust.

And all that time of working to heal – denial.

A total blindness to the reality of the harm

being done to children everywhere you look.

It’s a reality, take a bus or a train, sit in a café

you will be close to someone who has survived.

And then the guaranteed denial that fact is fact


In the face of all that. And then that sound

of wheels within wheels grinding, the noise

of conversations and the deals in closed rooms

to keep silence, to protect the perpetrators

and prevent the door room from being opened

and the truth from being known and shared.

Forty years of denial, obstruction and frustration.


Our lives are brief, a mere fluttering in time.

So open the door wide and let the light in!


Does this poem need explanation? Go somewhere else if you think it does.

©Rob Cullen

From Rob Cullen’s collection “Uncertain Times” published September 2016 Octavo Press.

The Examination of time and its many modes!

I’ve written a long poem about my experience of PTSD. I can’t get it published. The number of rejections are ridiculous. Today on socialmedia a posting snapped me back into that anger again. Nearly forty years of work with hugely damaged and damaging individuals left its own damage that I have had to deal with. I was lucky to get access to a very sensitive and sensible psychiatrist and psycholgist that brought me out of a very dark time in my life. So I am publishing the second verse of a long poem “The examination of time and its many modes” which I have avoided performing but feel that I have to do this now to complete a journey.


Time redefined


And now?

Am I marooned here?

You told me to go

go go go go go

when you decided

that it was done

that you were done

with me.

But I have been left here


then now

now then.

Time stands still

for some things.

Trapped in this silence

now and then.

A fracturing of time.






I struggle

for words.

It’s not true

that time heals

it simply

loses pain.

I am like a bell

that has not chimed true

for so long.

But I am not silent

only in quietness

will you hear

the deep vibration

of my calm.

I can’t make

up for lost time.

Making up

for lost time?

What time?

Who’s time?

A clock



Or Clocc.

A silent


Missing a bell

Is called

A Time piece.

I clock you.

You you you you

You. And you!

I refuse to be

Defined by you

By what you, you, you,

You. And you

Did to me.

I am the man

The man I am

But what you did doesn’t

Define me.

You will not

Define me.

My anger

About what you did

You you you

You. And you.

Does not define

Me and my life.

It is you see

Only a small

Part of what I call me.

A small part

Of who I am


This is my time

My space

And I decide.


©Rob Cullen