Don’t Be Alarmed – A Poem

Banksy's "Scar of Bethlehem", in his "Walled-Off" Hotel in Bethlehem, portrays the Holy Family beside the Apartheid Wall. (Photo: File)

By Stephen Oliver

Banksy on his balcony at The Walled Off

Hotel imploding the barrier a leap away,

watchtowers left and right. The Israeli land

grab barricade winding off out of sight;

they play it systematic, and with stealth.

He sees it otherwise, maps his grid, memory

coordinates, seals up busted holes with

plaster to stop the darkness seeping through.


Silence before the rumor. A carriage

of thunder rolled away, cannon fire heard

in a cloud bank. Then the recoil, as

everything slipped back into place, millennia

hence. Don’t be alarmed. Whatever befalls,

you are pitched, once again, into the chasm.

The millennial shuffle. Ploughshare moon

on a lop-sided sky. Let the church bells toll

sublime from the primal arsenal.


Antediluvian breath, the twelve tribes

seeking the unattainable. Not your typical,

postmenopausal suburban scene, saved by the

flowerpot and watering can. The bullet hole

he paints on concrete glistens bright as crystal,

‘The scar of Bethlehem’, over Palestine, too.

A woman heard at distance undeniably

emphatic, even in warbled laughter. As if

poetry were the articulation of forgetfulness.

– Stephen Oliver in an Australasian poet/voice artist, author of 19 poetry volumes. After 20 years in Australia returned to NZ. Poems translated into German, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Oliver has appeared in many poetry anthologies both in NZ and Australia. Forthcoming: THE SONG OF GLOBULE / 80 SONNETS, Greywacke Press, Canberra, 2020.

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