Ahmed al-Raheem was an immigrant
at least his father was, which makes no difference
to some people. A refugee
fleeing the cruelty of his desert kingdom
– his Western-sponsored desert kingdom –
winning the right to stay in Britain just when
we had signed a United Nations treaty
granting asylum to refugees from torture.

The sons of the fathers accepted Ahmed
lacking the compassion of people
who had themselves been through bad times.
They bullied him at school, and never missed
the opportunity to make it clear
how much they despised him
along with anyone the least bit olive.

Growing up Anger battled in his breast
with Pity and at last Anger prevailed.
But Pity wasn’t altogether vanquished.
In a London street he stood one day.
Without warning he unzipped his jacket
and roses tumbled out.
The best roses – and they smelt so nice
some people took them home.

Young Ahmed grew proficient at his calling
his escapades approvingly reported.
But jealous eyes were turned upon him.
Expert assassins as these were
had comfortable well-paid jobs for life
but suicide bombers are so single-use.
They would – or so the watchers reasoned –
benefit from training and experience.

One day they were out waiting for Ahmed
the zip was halfway down his jacket when
rifle bullets ripped his heart to shreds.
The passers-by stood looking on in horror
as blood and roses trickled in the gutter.
The blood was hosed off down the drain
the flowers were carted off to analyse
for Novichok, VX, and other nasties.

The roses proved to be just what they seemed
although as grudgingly admitted they had been
the best roses – and they smelt so nice
some of the lab staff took them home.

Ian Clark
July 2019