The red dust came from desert skies
sanded the paper and screens of the press
caught in the eyes of conspiracy freaks
piled up the stress of Western dreams
grazed the feet of measured prose
stormed the sounds of drum and song
covered the rows of memorial crosses
and all their long-remembered losses
tickled the wings of the watching hawks
scratched the surveillance camera’s lens
scuffed the talk of the innocent doves
rendered pretend what might have prevailed
as it landed deep on these shores, here –
striking home to avenge what we began before
striving vainly to settle foreign scores
She had never noticed the small tree with the red leaves just around the corner – couldn’t say whether the leaves were red all year or only turned so in autumn. It was only the kids playing on their scooters one morning that drew her attention. Then she forgot about it again. The following day it was stormy as she headed to the shops. Rocked by gusts of wind, the tree was hurling its leaves to the ground in showers. An hour later its branches were bare, the pavement crimson. Things fall down, she reminded herself, even as you look elsewhere.
A hot bath can do strange things, no joke. There I was, straight into the steam with a book on the side to read. And then thoughts, good and bad. A solitary drip from the sink tap. Outside everything frozen up; trains and planes cancelled. Life’s long waiting game.
There was a beep from my phone downstairs. Who was it? For fuck… I had things to do, obviously. And this morning, low in the sky, the moon had turned a red colour. Had the radio said the cause was climatic? I thought they said climactic. I would prefer the latter.
Every year they are sent out and cheered on… leaves fall to the ground… across the grey pavements strewn… the news bulletins roll and call… civilians giving money to young men and women in combat fatigues…
There are dates… 11/11… 9/11… 7/7… 11/11… 11/11… and onwards… to the cenotaphs and the white halls and houses… year after year… so that everyone must know… suit lapels stained with a red wound… sweaters punctured by a crimson splash… so we must know again… and line up… and sing… and bow our heads…
…fall to the dread drumbeat… marched down… trampled… forgotten… again…
When I was seventeen, the word ‘red’ meant only one thing: the colour of my girlfriend’s hair. I lie; now it comes to me – her red lipstick lips too. The thoughts we had and things we did. But of course it didn’t last and, well, things change. I changed. I was angry in my early twenties. Red mist descending and all that. Life was a struggle for a while. We drank lots and had Sunday lunches in the pub. I liked a Bloody Mary as a hangover cure. A colour for hope, anger, fear and regret. Which wins out?