Gang Warfare

Families fight on the streets of Verona
Capulets and Montagues locked in rivalryJuliet_s_Balcony__Verona.jpg
Engage in a war of words
That leads to a clash of swords
Struggling for the upper hand of honour
With the upper cut of knife crime.
Brixton’s boys fight for turf
And the retaliation of conflict
Finding protection in each other
Vendettas aimed at extermination
With a sabre rattle expecting submission
In the battle for domination.
Civilisations fight in Jerusalem alleyways
Jacob and Esau descended to a war of attrition
David’s star cradled by a crescent moon
Each determined to have its way
On Friday and Saturday
In fundamentalist control.
Family flags fly at half-mast
Mourning the loss of sons and daughters
In the unrequited love of balcony affection
As young lives come to a full stop
In self-harming learned from a brother
Yet aimed at destruction of another.
August 2009
These lines were written following a production of Romeo and Juliet at Brockham School, where the head teacher, Mr Erik Starkie had pointed out the relevance of Shakespeare’s play to the gang warfare and street crime of today. But its relevance may apply also to conflict in the Middle East.

Photograph: Juliet's Balcony, Verona: