A poem from last year for Khaled al-Asaad – the archaeologist and protector of Palmyra who was murdered by IS for not giving up his life’s work.

Also head over to for the song of the same title.



At what point can one say:

‘Preservation is complete’?

Which pitted surface smoothed?

Which sand-filled tomb exhumed?


At a closed junction

Between life and death

Man and bird wrestle

Above traffic lights. You are


No Zenobia

No Roman house arrest

In exchange for a life’s

Surrendered empire . And so


Finally you kneel,

A final thought for

Chipped faces off sarcophagi

Your final restoration




Still attached



With the rising sun
And sluggish

A bottleneck

In the nape’s
Scruffed and scragged

From a slow
Distortion, the
Crooked, contorted

Sinews come to
Rest. Distressed by
Some new normal

Vine-tangled spine

Muscles punctured
By kind needles
Letting off their


Pistons wheeze
Punctuated movements
Stop-motion frames at

Ten degrees away
Unaligned axis
Distended nerve range

Large muscles supported
By small muscles
I didn’t know

Existed. Twisted

Spine, perhaps
Perhaps I’m not
Indestructible at all


© 2015 Stuart Rawlinson

The Waves

The Waves

In pale pink cubicles

Spines slowly coil and

Wait to spring.

Each day just an obstacle

To be endured, to be

Raked up again.


There are waves, there are waves,

Gravitational waves.


Stock markets crash and

Investors are spooked, you worry

As pensions fluctuate.

And the paint that is peeling

And the mortar that’s dusting

Contrive to infuriate.


There are waves, there are waves,

Unimaginable waves.


We search for a high,

Losing all meaning in

The physics of the thing.

Waves swell and steel

Themselves, then surge:

You miss the wave again.


There are waves, there are waves,

Deep in space, there are waves.


The toddler’s particles are

Colliding and smashing

Disrupting frail habit.

Deep below Earth

Men bury their money and

Accelerate deathbound doubts.


There are waves, in the ground,

In the cemetery graves.


As you look, always

Things change, and nothing

Can touch the internal

Mind. And find that time

By its nature and pride

Leaves nothing, even names, eternal.


There are waves, there are waves,

Gravitational waves.