The Poem 'Six' was the most difficult. When I was around six years old my parents to me to the local zoo. Animal rights hadn't been invented back then. I still vividly remember the bear, in its discomfort. I wrote it with the knowledge that Aleppo was being bombed 24/7 by Russian and Syrian planes, although many civilians were still in the city. Those children will remember the bombing at least as clearly as I remember the bear.

I received great encouragement from the animal-rights lobby. That's good, but did they miss the point?

Original title -Six

Happy Christmas Aleppo


I saw a polar bear

In a cage, in a zoo,

In a polar bear sweat,

Standing on a wet rock,

Dejected, defeated,

When I was only six.


The great white furry beast

Was in a tiny space.

I don’t think he could turn.

How could a child measure

Radius – circumference

When it is only six?


I questioned my father.

‘Is that OK for bears?’

He said, ‘It isn’t, and

I shouldn’t have brought you.

I’m sad you must see it,

When you are only six.’


The bear searched my child’s face

With huge dewy brown eyes

Which followed my movements.

Those moist eyes spoke to me.

They said, ‘Save me, can you,

You, who are only six?’


Sixty years on, I still

Remember those sad eyes

And their message, too hard

To understand at the time.

A cruelty is eternal

When you are only six.


What will the children of

Aleppo remember









New poetry in 'Getting to Grips' - now on Amazon


Image - Luminous Landscapes, by the Liverpool Lantern Company. Spring Festival of Light, Liverpool, Feb. 2016

Picture by Annie

The poem was eventually published by New London Writers, but was turned down at its first submission. I resubmitted with the title 'Happy Christmas Aleppo.'

Read further.

New poetry in 'Getting to Grips' - now on Amazon