The rules are shaped and branded

On to genes, down generations,

Passed round in

Story and in song,

To make forgetting harder.


Ideas are bubbled up

On home-fired cauldrons,

Fuelled by a thousand years or more

Of thermal layered grievance

That have no taste, no smell, no colour:

Yet, still, they stink.


A virtual reality of light and heat

And sound that causes

Temperatures to rise and red mists form

Round ancient borders

Where battle lines are drawn

And citizens are armed against each other.


Upturned tables, scattered pieces

Mean no peace for people powered by hate.

The frenzied game plays on;

Until the victor stands elated,

Knows records are at last set straight

And neighbour’s scalps are buried deep.

He will not sleep,

For ghosts of so called civil war

Will always rise again, to haunt.


Caroline Johnstone


Caroline is originally from Northern Ireland, now living in Ayrshire, Scotland. She has just started writing poems again, and writes mainly on philosophical, political and life experience themes. She has been published in The Galway Review, Imagine Belfast and The Snapdragon Journal and was shortlisted for Tales in the Forest. She blogs for Positively Scottish, helps the Women Aloud NI with social media and is a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).

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