40 / Message

 This poem by Jood Gough was contributed in remembrance of a good friend from school and college days through to my early working life.  His fate was the casual collateral damage resulting from an expedient agreement at national government level oblivious to the effect on individual citizens.

A Message

Gentle Phil
teacher poet
out for a quiet drink in a Beirut bar.

bundled into a darkened car
driven up in to mountains.

Passed – sold -
from one unknown group to another
for what? for guns? for drugs?

Gentle Phil,
for three long weeks you’re a hostage to chance.
I knew nothing
and even now I dare not imagine.

And then,
Maggie says yes to Reagan.
And then, Maggie says
yes, you can re-fuel your war planes here
my friend.

Gentle Phil,
chance turns a blind eye, and you are sold once again.
This time for revenge you are dumped
head bullet-holed
on a mountain pass.

Gentle Phil,
You were there, before, when I needed you my friend.
But this time
not even my thoughts could reach to comfort you.

Gentle Phil,
poet, teacher,
abducted 28th March 1986,
abandoned just twenty days later
wrapped in a white blood-stained cloth,
hostage to a game of power
pawn in a vicious game of chess.

Jood Gough
October 2016


The bodies of Philip Padfield, John Leigh Douglas, and Peter Kilburn – the “forgotten hostages” - were found on the 17th April 1986 on a street near the village of Ruweisat al Sofar near Beirut, after  Margaret Thatcher allowed US planes to bomb Libya from British bases. The Revolutionary Organisation of Socialist Muslims claimed their execution as in retaliation for the US air raid on 15th April. The three men remain unacknowledged by the British government. 

© Jood Gough


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