by Chris North
Information in this issue may be outdated. Click here to link to the most recent issue.
protection on and helmet tight, equipment tested and ready, we cross the
line to start the search. Our movements slow and safe and steady.
waist high brush and piles of rubbish And house after house in a line,
we clear the ground and mark our route To hunt the hidden mine. Each day
we walk the ground we’ve cleared to prove the job’s done right. We check
each morning to ensure no mines were laid last night.
so cold the prodder burns the fingers of your hand. Other times so hot
sweat stings your eyes; It takes so much effort to stand
the weather, be it hot or cold, no matter what comfort we need to endure,
We search the ground with prodder in hand. We must be safe, we must be
sentry waits, he doesn't care how long
waits alone or in groups for you to come along.
assassin is ready, he remains ever alert.
can wait for years to do his job, he cares not who's killed or hurt.
So far so
good, no booby traps so there is one less worry.
now with steady hand uncover the mine, don't hurry.
he is, still waiting, even after years in the ground.
body of plastic, as good as new still working, still sound.
with steady hand now comes the vital part:
lift, reach underneath and unscrew this demon's heart.
over now, this battle won, another victory filed;
less assassin in the ground.
less to hurt a child.
The very old
or the innocent young, he sees them all the same.
lies in wait to trap them all, he must achieve his deadly aim.
look for him, we hunt him down wherever he may lie.
play with him his deadly game, one of us must surely die.
night of old with armor for battle we prepare.
moving forward, hunting, we probe the ground with care.
something hard is felt beneath; if it is a stone, then all is fine;
if not, we know prepare for mortal combat with the mine.
visor down and armor on and with prodder at the ready,
gently probe beneath the mine, stay cool, stay calm, keep steady.
one battle won, but the war still goes on.
is He Thinking?"
When a deminer
steps forward to do his work,
knows what's inside his head.
knows what he thinks whilst doing this job,
just one mistake could leave him for dead.
he think of his wife and his children,
he think of their future?
he makes a mistake and sets off a mine,
will take care of them after he's dead?
he doesn't think of such things,
on the job instead,
just concerned with finding the mine.
his thoughts wander, he could end up
matter how much we follow the rules,
No matter how hard we try,
Each time the prodder goes in the ground
We know we could die.
Each time we search the ground ahead
Using tripwire feelers with care,
A blinding flash could be the first we know
That a tripwire mine was there.
That even when we checked the ground ahead
With detectors tuned so fine,
We know when we move forward that
Our feet could find the mine.
We put all these drills together,
Confirm and check and test,
Working hard constantly improving
To make our drills the best.
So we trust in all the drills we use.
To improve, we continually try
But demining is a risky business,
And deminers often die.
when I'm alone that it starts to bite,
I've nothing to do and it's late at night,
thoughts creep in
worry like sorrow,
I survive the day or be killed tomorrow?
the next landmine I touch
the last thing I see?
I be killed or maimed,
will happen to me?
m sure it won't happen, but
that it might.
thoughts come to haunt me
in the night.
night drifts away and Morning
confidence returns in the things that I do.
recede as the morning turns bright,
eager again to get on with the fight.
like decades away,
they return at the end of each day.
day draws to a close.
I survive or die tomorrow?
with permission from Handicap international.
North is a retired senior non-commissioned officer and EOD
operator working for Handicap International. He leads a team of 30 men
who risk their lives every day, locating and disarming landmines in Bosnia.
His wife, Janice, and their two young children live in Scotland. His
poetry collections have been published in two books "Risky Business"
and "War Trade".