Succumbing to the succour that poetry allows

rain falls and pain empties ….

eddying always as it flows.


An SOS from the frontier.

This is a message from the borderlands

an endless void a windswept land

it is a desert 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!

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




Love song to Sarajevo.

A love song should be sung with joy not shame

Yes a love song should be sung with joy

But it is with shame that I write

A love song to Sarajevo.


I hear of the deaths and the blood spilled

And the killing goes on and on and on

And it is with shame that I write

A love song to Garasda.


I heard a Muslim child cry

Rescued but leaving her mother behind

And it is with shame that I write

A love song to Mostar.


I heard from the quietness of our radio

A man cry for his Serb sister, lost and unheard

And it is with shame that I write

A love song to Belgrade.


A Serb speaks of his anger that the world

Has simply turned away and no longer listens

And it is with shame that I write

A love song to Tuzla.


A doctor speaks of the death of the wounded

A hospital bombed and riddled by sniper fire

And it is with shame that I write

A love song to the people.


Love songs should be sung with joy

But my heart is filled with pain.