Words (Excerpt)


I love the revelry of words sound

words as they ride and are formed

languishing momentarily or longer

on the back of the tongue

brought forward on the breath

to roll and reverberate in the vault

of the mouths vast darkness

to briefly rest on the tongues tip

a momentary and glorious savouring

and then to flit from the bit of my teeth

and freed then thrown outward

on the stuttering blast of breath

the sound of words the dissonant clash

and the smooth assonance

that always manages to awaken me.

Uncertain Times (excerpt)

Of words and truth.


Like grasses bundled

And withered in storm

We are blown helplessly

And not a word is spoken.

Who sings the authentic song?

Who speaks the words of truth?

Who stands for me and mine?

Who looks at what we see?

Who hears what we hear?

Who breathes the air we breathe?

Who sees what is right and wrong?

Who speaks for me and mine?

Who sings the authentic song?

Where are our heroes and poets now?

 Rob Cullen

The Black Box

The Black Box.


It’s been the first night

I’ve slept right through

In a month or more

I woke thinking

Of you and that black box

You used to keep

under your bed

and those messages

from the past it contained.

A few words written

On brown parcel paper

With the correct postage

Sent from Germany

In nineteen forty five

You wrote to your love

Breaking out tonight

Heading for American lines

But you ended up

With the Russians instead

And we laughed at that

So typical of our dad.

But there was that faded

Old telegram too

So fragile now

From where you’d

Handled it so often

Telling you your brother

Had died that morning.

He’d fought in the war

Just like you

And came home

To the  austerity

Of a land on its knees

Not free from desease

And the virulency of TB

That defied the hope

Of that miracle

Drug penicillin.

People have forgotten

The fear contagion

Of disease could bring

My poor uncle

Visited his old home

And his family

In Ireland for that last time

Not knowing

That he carried

A death sentence

And passed the disease

to his younger brother

And to his own daughter

Then when it came

To having tests in school

Before inoculation

It was found that

I was immune

And I must have been

exposed to it too.

But luck showed its hand

And stood on my

Right shoulder.

As children we’d run

around the street

singing that old jingle

Who won the war

in nineteen forty four.

And my father

Would say quietly

You shouldn’t believe

In such lies

And that constant

Bragging of the greatness

Of the British Empire.

We fought in a war

But paid for it dearly

War is never something

To be bragged over.


Rob Cullen 18/05 2016.

Terra Sigillata


An afternoon of planting

in the raised bed

and I started to return

to the house


Stopping to wash

The soil from my hands

In warm rainwater

Gathered in a tub.


I watched the earth

As fine as silt

Slowly drift through

The waters depth


I washed my hands

In the past

Hands covered

In red and grey clay


In that old wood shed

Of the pottery

Cold water kept to make

Terra sigillata.

On lies and lies

On lies and lies.

A lie



To be withheld

A lie

So devastating

Lives changed

In ways

No person

Could anticipate


Or rationalise.


He prayed

To god

That one

His one

But over

Many years



An answer

He presumed

He was Jesus.

On the cross


Cried aloud

“My God – Father

 My God – Father

Why hast you

Forsaken me?”

And so war

Is waged

In the name

Of a father

Who remains


Impassive even

And the people ask


Why allow

Such cruelty

If we are

True believers?

And the reply?



To the “wise” men



Is on our side


Young men

To destroy

In the name

Of the righteous.


It’s the same

On the other sides

“Wise” men

Order the young

To kill

In the name

Of a silent


The same god

Our father.

The old


To the young



Holy ghost


A Buddhist

Priest spoke to me

About standing

In Auschwitz


By the reality

Of Man’s ability

To justify.

It’s juxtaposition

A belief

In irrationality

To justify


Or is this

The fantasy

That we are somehow

Rationale beings?


As a species

Our father

Our God




We look

We search

For signs.


We look

We search

For signs


And still

You ask

Why does

Our Father

Ein Tad



Let such

Bad things



We look

For signs

We are rationale

There must be



So now

The wise men

Do not mention

Our father

Our God

They speak

Of the rightness

Of the need

To assist

To help

To prevent

But not God.

War is

A necessity

To protect us

From the threat




The “wise”


They walk

In their processions

To celebrate

The lives taken

The lives lost

And the slaughter

But the devastation

Of lives


The loss

Of Love

The grieving

Of a life


A life


And so

The prayers

Are mouthed

The words

Of the hymnal

Sung aloud



Our father

Is silent

Its rationale

To believe

In the irrational

The Emperor

Has no clothes.


It does not


You must believe

In the silence

of the invisible

Of the Father

Who cares


Doesn’t care

It’s irrational

To be rationale



Are we all


Is God dead?



Rob Cullen

This land that surrounds



This land that surrounds

This land that has nurtured us

For so long

This land on which we stand

This land has no voice

This land is silent

This land is silent

This land has stood

Witness for so long, so long.

But if we took time

To listen to this land

We would hear its voice

We would hear it in the wind

And the lowing of the trees

We would hear its voice

In the grasses sigh

We would hear the land

In the rush of the rivers

And trickling of streams

This land in its silence sighs

Let me rest

Let me breathe

Open your eyes and see

Let me rest

Let me breathe

Let me renew

Let me rest

Leave me to green

Leave me to grow

This land cannot hide

This land cannot run

This land cannot pretend

To be somewhere else

It cannot disguise its pain

And what of the guardians

What of the people of this land

Are their eyes blind-folded

So tight that they cannot see

Or perhaps they face the other way

Distracted and deafened

So that they no longer

Hear the cry of the land

Let me breathe

Let me rest

Let me renew.


Rob Cullen