Sonnet of the Week: Outrage

This comes from my recent booklet Us and Them: the war in error. I argue that the worse the atrocity, the clearer our thinking has to be. One of Lee Rigby’s killers had been tortured, and then repeatedly pressured by MI5. That doesn’t excuse the killing, but it’s something we need to know.

Paul Francis.

This is what terrorism means. It’s meant to fill you with uncomprehending fears. A young man in the street, hit by a car and then beheaded, filmed by passers-by.  The clip goes viral. Ministers are sent round all the studios. They are insane these monsters. Evil. If we had the rope... Next best is lock them up and don’t ask why.  We need informers, vulnerable men with contacts. No, they won’t be volunteers. We probe their weakness, sometimes probe too far. This guy, a torture victim, did complain but we still probed. He’d had enough. And then? That’s stuff we’ll cover up. You couldn’t cope.


Sonnet of the Week: Renoir at Moulin Huet

This is the poem that won a prize at the 2015 Guernsey Poems on the Move competition – the third time this has happened. I wrote it on my second visit to Guernsey, when I was collecting the second prize. For me, it is that kind of place – full of sights, ideas and little stories, as well as a pleasure to be in. It helps that the sun shines all the time.

Paul Francis.


Not Normandy this time. Guernsey is near but warmer, with a golden August glow; a mix of greens on granite greys that fall incisive, slanting in the turquoise sea.  He finds this bay and stalks it like a deer. Quick glimpses, as each twist along the track unearths his prey, allows his sights to wheel on to a different line, a fresh attack.  He loves the giggling girls, the way they squeal galloping into waves, no hint of shame, young creatures in the wild running free. One month, and fifteen canvases. Some haul. He drags his bulging bag of captured game back to the kitchen of his studio.