Chris McDonnell: A Gaza Story

… words from Gaza 2023- 2024.

Gaza This October

Monday, October 16th 2023

Hour by hour
munitions fall
in an exchange
of fearsome fire.

Smoke erupts
from shattered
Buildings hanging
through the orange
glow of flame.

This narrow strip
of sea-edged land
littered streets
torn metal, broken
brick, shattered

tiles, lifeless forms.
Costly retribution for
a savage act, lost
lives, wailing cries
and threat of siege.

This land of youth
broken piece by piece.
Christ-caught in the
shadow of the cross.
A gale of destruction

sweeps the land
leaving a trail of
hollow hope amid
fading distant dreams
and worn-out words.

What next? and when


No Room At The Inn


plenty of straw. And contented stock.

A woman in blue a man leaning on a staff,

well-lit, neat and tidy

with a baby wrapped in white.




Scattered rocks, twisted iron

A man in a sweatshirt and 

A woman in a shawl watch over an infant

Wrapped in a keffiyeh amid dust of plaster

And hanging drapes, the aftermath of attack

This troubled, turbulent year


No Place Is Safe

in no uncertain terms

Having been told

to pack up and leave the North,

for safety, the journey South began,

only for the story to be repeated.

Greeted by onslaught round Khan Younis

the furtive crowds were told to move again

as ground was laid waste about them.

Pleading hands and dried mouths

aching limbs drift pass. “I thirst!”

but the water bottles were dry.

Hunger and tongue-swelling thirst

worsens by the hour as tanks in the South

wreak vengeance on unarmed women

and children crying in their mother’s arms

no place is safe, nowhere free from fear

homes left behind, toys and clothes, gone.

“where shall I sleep tonight? will I wake in

the morning ? Daddy has gone missing “

“he’ll be back soon“ the lie is murmured,

knowing that he won’t be coming home at all.


Climbing Walls

if we wash our hands of’

the conflict between the powerful

and the powerless we side with

the powerful-we don’t remain neutral – BANKSY

I learnt to climb walls when I was young,

scrambled to find a finger-lip to grasp,

pressed feet tight to hold a grip,

till no longer able to support my slender

frame, I dropped to the ground.

You asked how I got grazed knees and

white-washed hands so I told you a story

which you didn’t believe but

knowingly you told me not to try again.

I nodded silently through my tears.

Your tears, when they came, were not silent,

but a dark howl in the grey dawn light

when you told me of the killing of my mother

and elder sister as an exploding tank shell

took our home from us, leaving only despair.

The powerful take the powerless in the night,

rage in retribution, careless of their plight.

I will go back and climb that wall, and bring it down,

brick by brick, and so rebuild my broken home.

Where do you stand? Where is your voice?


With Each Passing Bead

Hand-fingered beads

slip endlessly through

work-worn grime,

light dust blown

in the evening air.

A large orange sun

hangs low in the sky

over the broken city.

His empty hand cradles

a turbaned forehead.

With each passing bead

his lips move in silence

as in personal reflection

he offers prayer.



                               Silent spaces

row after row of ragged holes

of street side dwellings, edged

by rutted roads.

                     A toothless gasp, a

sightless stare, an eyeless face,

their empty concrete cranium,

a crushed echo box

holding the discordant cries of

distant loitering children

littered with distorted charred

fragments tossed and broken,

their origin, indeterminate.

their future, unknown.


Broken Days

Khan Yunis, Gaza – December 1:

Four days stretched to seven, then the

      thread was broken.

The search among the debris resumed.

Rockets flew again

and explosives rained down on homes

as people gathered

lifting, searching, crying, looking in hope,

      desperate for voices,

finding only broken bricks among rubble.

Splintered wooden

rafters hung angled overhead draped in

ripped materials.

The silence was brief, the smoke cleared

       hostages exchanged

lost voices fill the night again

                   with screams.                                 

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