A Childhood

It’s 2022 and Robbie, aged fifteen, is living with his mother, Paula, in a semi-derelict 1960s council house on a vast estate of public housing to the north of the city. Paula describes living there as ‘like being in the Wild West’ where security guards have to protect bus drivers. One bus shelter carries a homemade poster of a policewoman with a noose round her neck.
It’s early morning. Robbie and Paula sit on white plastic garden chairs in the freezing kitchen, their hands warmed by steaming mugs of black tea. 
You’ll get warm when you get to school, Paula says.

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Poem to Putin

If my tears could make a laurel wreath of peace
For you to wear upon your troubled head
Giving victory to peace instead of war
If my breath could make a gale of love
Blowing doves of peace inside Kremlin’s walls
Defying hate and Lenin’s disgusted grimace
Ending forever your fear of love
If my eyes would let you see the truth 
Freeing Russians from your mendacious misrule
Where you portray genocide as God’s cause
Where in Ukraine you wage your holy war
While at your devil’s table you gorge 
On rape, murder and pillage and smile at the feast
And what will history make of you?
Will your Stalinist madness be excused 
By a malignant melanoma of hate in your head?

No, you shall not escape, even in defeat
You will always be known as evil beyond belief
Not in Hitler’s camps but in a land once at peace 
Now reduced to ruin for your fantasy’s sake
Your war is lost all you’ve won is contempt.