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Produced in monochromatic post war London,
I was stitched with pride by demobbed craftsmen.
Waxed for protection. Anointed by Woodbine.
Finished by apprentices, a sack for adventuring.
A sack for fighting proxy superpower battles.
A sack for defending my post colonial kingdom.

My first tour: Korea. Packed with British arms,
I emitted well crafted pride but soon fell into the other side.
Now stuffed with soviet munitions: a sack of the people.

Passed over the 17th parallel, I became a subterranean sack.
A sack desperately seeking peace. A sack who had seen too much.
My sheen now spoiled by rat holes, Chinese tobacco and napalm.
I was a sack pulled from the foe of the land of the free.

I was a sack that was sold in Ko Samui. I was a sack of free love.
Painted with flowers, CND signs and Che Guevara
who once said ” the bullet box is stronger than the ballot box.”
What do they say about one man’s freedom fighter?

I made it to Sidney, got passed around. Things were easier and freer then.
I was a sack of opportunity and sunshine, then I sailed to Gravesend.

London was grimmer then. Colder then, there were more edges then.
Flowers faded and badges appeared: UK Subs, Stiff Little Fingers, Sham 69.
If only they’d known real hate, real desolation, real napalm death.

I was taken up north to start a new life.
I was a sack for camping, hiking and day trips.
But my shoulder straps dug in, leaving purple plane trails on skin.
Usurped by Gore-Tex and padded shoulder straps,
they don’t need a sack stuffed full of munitions now.

Picked up in a jumble sale in Keighley
by a youth worker seduced by the axis of anger and intolerance.
I was taken back to my home city. 7/7/2005. A sack full of hate.

This poem was inspired by Keith Tyson’s wall drawing A Sack Full of Hate 7/7/05.

A native of St. Leonards on Sea, Dave Hempshall is a poet, writer and mental health nurse. He has won poetry slams in East Sussex and Kent and developed and co-facilitated an award winning poetry group for people with lived experience of mental health problems that drew international interest.

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