As if that soldier who NEVER was … #surveillance #veteranality #civilians*

What happened to me

to make me this soldier?

To make me a man wary

and even a-



of people in alleyways

and on motorways

and side-


The litter-

bin and gone;

the song that drifts distractingly

for a moment

lost to history, mebbe;

a moment

which can mean the seam and

edge and



er[r] between a death clear for him –

or a life dear for you?


And you have been

to Afghanistan,

but I have never ventured further

than southwards onto Spain

and westwards into



volcanoes which once said so much to me

and now mean so little,

yer know?


So if you have the right to clock

every piece of trash,

whether human or material,

it’s rather



and watch all that CCTV

watching all your CCTV-ed movements,

why should it be so

that without training at all –

without reason to fear the



and whole – I should spend my life equally

watching with your precision

and cool,

the way that others are following me:

as if that soldier who

never was …

* I just wrote this poem as a result of thoughts which came my way whilst watching the film “The Separate System” last night at the FACT Liverpool event I have already posted about this morning.

In a section of the film, a veteran describes how he is – even when now a civilian – never really a civilian: always on patrol, always checking out and clocking the people, the objects, the threats all these things could pose to him.

His training has taken over his life.  He can never escape the condition of soldier.

I was so taken with this idea, and behaviour too.  I have sensed and experienced similar emotions and acts.  I still do, though now generally without fear, find myself clocking my environment in very analogous ways.  Does this make me ill, as my doctors believe; or does it reach back into something that happened to me in my past?

This, right now, I have no way of knowing.

I’d love to find out, however; either way.


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