Poetry With A Mission

...a thought provoking poetical exercise.

Looking Down The Barrel

When somebody takes a loaded gun and goes on a random shooting spree,
Or simply commits suicide, we shake our head and wonder why, don’t we?
And yet, it’s all very fathomable, there is always a reason why,
Even if such alludes us when the exact cause we can’t identify.

Nevertheless, reasons there are, and such are cause for sober reflection,
Be they depression, drugs, influences, revenge, fear, hurt or rejection.
And connected to these examples is the decay within society,
Caused by the repudiation of things once upheld, but not now, foolishly.

Usually, or often, there’s something that triggers these acts that we see,
A final straw that has folk snap, give up — enter us, inevitably.
Yes, so often we’ve contributed in some way, even unwittingly,
Hence why we should tread with great care, lest it be we aid some calamity.

After all, those who’ve been mistreated, or who consider that they have been,
Often hit back, and far more so, when they’re permanently leaving the scene.
I guess they figure they’ve nothing to lose, already feeling dead inside,
And where they’ve no belief in a day of reckoning for all, woe betide.

Yes, such ones inflict all the carnage they can, viewing it as pay-back time,
Their behaviour deliberate, hardly a case of no rhythm or rhyme.
And in their sights, not just random folk, but also those they believe caused their pain,
Or who at least contributed, links in a perceived or very real chain.

Perhaps they were treated indifferently, rather insensitively,
Perhaps they weren’t understood, nor given the time or thought necessary.
Yes, little by little, here a bit, there a bit, things that overtime grew,
Or an injury that deeply wounded, over which they began to stew.

Such people aren’t always evil at heart, but troubled emotionally,
Their lot made harder by circumstances, or a tightening net, maybe.
By that I mean, harder times, misfortune, a more restricted welfare net;
Things that no longer buffer, support, hold in check, but rather, some scene set.

Hence why some do tragic things that we wouldn’t have thought they would have, sadly,
And why we should always treat others very carefully and thoughtfully.
And why all those valuable things we once upheld should be reinstated,
Given all the damage that their wrongful dismissal has generated.

So much can contribute, so much can light a fire within, badly inflame;
A marital break up, a broken home, child abuse, cutting words, loss, shame.
It seems we’re hell bent on hurting one another, and then we wonder why
Shooting sprees and suicides occur — and still, violence we glorify.

Oh yes, it’s all very fathomable, there is always a reason why,
So we’re wasting our time scratching our heads, as there’s nothing to mystify.
Though we may not know the exact reason for many of the things we see,
One thing’s for sure: There is one, one usually smouldering quietly.

So let’s be very careful how we treat others, lest baleful seeds are sown,
For out of such, terrible and tragic occurrences have often grown.
Be they via the barrel of a gun, or a hundred and one other ways,
All of which seem to be on the increase, and more horrific these days.

Yes, those who’re wounded are more likely to wound others, sometimes fatally,
And as long as people continue to be mistreated, this we’ll see.
Seems few want to take ownership for having contributed in some way,
And those things that wound and fester, foolishly continue to do and say.

By Lance Landall

You may also like to read my poem To The Angry Young which can be found on
my Home page and in the purple box titled: Hurting?.

2.  Don't Help Tip The Scales

He’s angry, very angry — in other words, smarting badly, dangerously,
For oh, how he’d like to hit back, have them eating their words-cum-paying dearly.
Yes, it bad enough that he has his past to deal with, many issues within,
Without more brickbats coming his way, striking at his manhood, rubbing things in.

Hence his negative dreams, his desire to become powerful, even wealthy,
For money can buy position and clout, reward with a certain potency.
In other words, take care of that ticking “I’ll show ’em” wound that festers and burns,
And possibly in time, via this ill or that ill, a Newspaper headline earns.

And you know, he not an evil person, but one propelled down a certain track,
Which, despite all his good qualities, even glowing, results in something black.
And all preventable but for that indifference, insensitivity,
Those things that made him feel small, a fool, and took away respect and dignity.

And he just one of many, a passer-by that draws no attention, until
His inner rage hits the fan, a final straw flinging random or chosen ill.
And oh, how he’s seen for the evil one he is, or so his despisers say,
Yes, a thoughtless line of them that throughout his life helped to pave that fateful day.

Though for some that day may not come, thanks to inner brakes that just manage to hold,
And that meantime ensure that those inner rages and errant thoughts are controlled.
Well, largely so, some lid letting out just enough steam to prevent a large spill,
But not so with other bubbling pots that blow their lid and predictions fulfil.

So please don’t help tip the scales lest some Hitler be born, folk in the wings already,
And by that I mean, it only a matter of time and opportunity.
For oh, how they’re smarting, voices echoing in their ears and scenes replaying,
And as for any impending ill, well, they’re hardly likely to be saying.

It never pays to re-wound the wounded, though who they are one can’t always tell,
And therefore, we minding how we go, and rather than stirring, seeking to quell,
For humanity is full of such wounds, wounds that are gaping and infected,
Thus is it any wonder given how folk are mistreated and neglected.

By Lance Landall

Also see my poem When Anger Burns which can be found on
my page Hurting? Home page.

3.  Ticking Clocks

Seems that many have a mistaken picture of those who unleash much ill on society,
Be they sex offenders, those who brutally assault and murder, or who injure mentally.
And mistaken it certainly is, for many who commit such offences don’t look the part,
Some even good looking too, and to all appearances, they seemingly sound in mind and heart.

And on the other hand, many who look the part are of no concern, they simply looking so,
Though many who do look the part, do in fact act the part, and why it’s oft very hard to know.
Yes, sure there are those tell-tale signs in many, but in others, they’re somewhat hidden from one’s view,
And only picked up by the knowing — or psychologists, who any understanding pursue.

And hence all those ticking clocks, some obvious and some not, anger, hurt, frustration, obsession, and
Any number of other things going on within, which many people fail to understand,
For unless they’ve been there, sort of thing, had the same issues-cum-background, such they can hardly grasp,
And hence why when many folk hear of certain heinous offences, they incredulously gasp.

But you know, such isn't all that hard to understand, and why it behoves us to study,
And mind what we say and do, for many folk are badly in need of help, much healing mentally.
And many wanting help, wanting to be understood, for hey, they hardly chose their injury,
Such usually occurring in the tender years where minds and hearts are more fragile — and very!

And hence that awesome responsibility on parents, lest their child afflict society,
For children need a positive foundation, love, hope, values, direction and security.
And with it, no exposure to the likes of that trash on TV which acts so injuriously,
Hence that copycat behaviour, that growing callousness, that obsession with sex that we see.

But add such to an injured tender mind, violated body, or latchkey situation,
And some ticking clock is waiting for something to move its hands into that trigger position.
And what has some gasp come the six o’clock News is the tip of an iceberg, far more in waiting;
Those baleful influences and sins of the fathers (and mothers too), such accelerating.

And hence why we need to get to the root of things, just what sets a child on a downward path, or
Has someone acting criminally, heading down that age old destructive, callous corridor.
For reasons there are (random behaviour aside), and they usually occurring early,
And over time forming an explosive cluster, which, come any match, look out society.

And who’s child-cum-adult might that be? Well, too many point to less well-off families, sadly,
Which is hardly fair, as it has more to do with parenting and not hardship-cum-poverty.
Hence why criminals also come from well-off families, so much happening behind closed doors,
Along with any bad influences outside the home, which can affect both the rich and poor.

And do, for most children are feeding from the same poisoned wells-cum-rubbing shoulders with ill, or
They being neglected and abused, and discipline and boundaries having long gone out the door.
Yes, morals, principles, standards and values having been kicked out too, and why we see  much ill,
Such blighting both the rich and poor alike, enter those who maim, terrorise, rape, abuse, steal and kill.

Yes, ticking clocks.

By Lance Landall

This poem is done in a form somewhat like that of the song Ode To Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry

4.  When Pots Boil Over

It was a drab day and Dad had just walked in the door, a meal on the table for the family.
Mum passed the spuds and Dad took his share, the rest of us waiting for grace which soon came, and gratefully.
Dad seemed serious and quiet. “Everything all right, Dear?" Mum inquired, "Sorry, finish your mouthful.”
Dad leaned back a bit, raising his head, his gaze on his food, and he appearing uncomfortable.

“Jimmy shot six people this morning, and then turned the gun on himself. Could you pass the gravy, please?”
No one spoke, we all stunned, Mum mechanically passing the gravy boat. “Thanks, the salt too, please.”
The salt passed hands as Dad continued the story, we too shocked to speak, Jimmy only thirty three.
“They say that before he fired, he yelled out about people not being there for him, his family,

How they’d suffered too, he cursing those he reckoned could’ve made all the difference financially,
Or whose pitiful token gestures he found offensive, more so when they weren't that short of money.”
Dad passed the salt back, took another mouthful, our eyes glancing at each other, words stuck in the throat,
We all seemingly anesthetised, and as if awaiting some “No, such isn’t true” antidote.

Dad broke the silence again. “He was as angry as a hornet, screaming how little people cared,
How they’d treated him as if he were a joke, just 'cause he’d struggled with things, even some things feared.
He said something about how they could’ve at least helped his wife and kids, not punished them 'cause of him.”
And we all glanced at each other again, wondering what guilt we might share, and our expressions grim.

Mum rescued the patties from the oven, finding her voice. “But hasn't he just worsened things for them, Dear?”
“Well, when pots boil over, they hardly switch themselves off, and can often badly burn whoever's near.”
“Patties, Dear?” Mum asked. “Yes thanks. In such a case, those who boil over can turn on those they view as guilty,
One of his victims being someone that we know, but that’s the inevitable reality.”

Dad’s knife parted his pattie, the rest of us picking at our food now, though Dad’s fork raising its load,
But before his mouth engulfed such, he paused. “The truth is that we just don’t know when someone might explode.”
The load disappeared, Mum finding her voice again. “I wonder how many more Jimmys there are out there?”
Dad motioned to the gravy which came his way again. “I suspect there’s many no surprises there.”

He spooned the gravy. "So many out there are in need of such help. Wouldn’t mind another pattie.”
“Sure, Dear.” Dad rested his fork and Mum fetched the tray. “It surely pays for us to act more thoughtfully,
And by that I mean, we taking a greater interest in others, even going without too,
Well, at times, that is, in order to ease someone's lot, and lest ill may fester, and things go askew.”

Another member found her voice. “Yes, so many of us don’t do as much as we could, I must say.”
Dad’s fork probed his pattie. “That’s right, Jean, and there’re far to many excuses at the end of the day.
We oft don’t appreciate how blessed we are, and fail to see our shortcomings, oft conveniently,
Our sad oversight and thoughtlessness encouraging or triggering those loaded guns, possibly.

While such doesn't excuse their dreadful act, it’s oft a contributing factor, one we can’t ignore,
One that's fuelled by that growing gap between the haves and have-nots, which could be eased if people helped more.
And by that I mean, in any way they can, be such via their time, skills, contacts, possessions, or  money,
Which, when it’s all boiled down, simply amounts to that love that each of us should have for humanity.

Many tragedies could no doubt be prevented if people responded with the appropriate care,
Taking the time to help such ones, and such oft only amounting to being an attentive ear.
In other words, just being there for those who’re struggling; thus where people can, they doing what they can,
And not waiting to be asked, but seeking with charitable eyes that the width and breadth of Earth scan.”

We nodded our heads in agreement, the room falling silent except for the chatter of knives and forks,
Such hardly the usual subject matter come our family meals and around the table talks.
Mum’s voice finally broke our ponderings. “Such a cost,” she said, “And then there’s his wife and kids, oh dear.”
And as she began to clear the table, she looked at us all, as mums do, and there flowed a wee tear.


We'd known Jimmy for years, his family too, but from a distance, nod of the head, wave of the hand,
And he seemed a nice guy, we wishing we’d got to know him better, 'cause such we could understand.
We’d had our struggles too, well knew that air of indifference (something that really rubs when life’s low),
And why some who are seriously struggling, and dealing with who knows what, suddenly up and blow. 

By Lance Landall

This poem was upgraded 3 August 2021.

5.  When Anger Burns

When most get angry over something, their anger is singular, of that moment-cum-current injury,
But when damaged people get angry over something, their anger's oft plural — past and present injury;
In other words, all that anger that’s been bottled up over time is oft mixed with the current injury,
The previous anger being stirred up by the current ill as if in protest at that further injury.

Hence why when damaged-cum-hurting people get angry over something, they oft overreact,  blow their top,
They akin to a fermenting bottle of something, or a balloon being filled with too much air, until, pop!
And yes, the fallout can be severe, that pressure within having been there too long, and very deep as well,
And why we should treat folk with care, for who such folk are, or how much pain lies within, we can’t always tell.

In fact, such damaged people need our care and attention before others, for others can wait, but not they,
As such folk have usually been left far too long as it is, and dare we their healing further delay.
For who knows where the hands are on their ticking clock, and what might suddenly happen, be such suicide or
Serious injury coming someone’s way, for those who’ve been mistreated often try to even the score.


Too many people avoid such hard to fix cases, which hardly speaks well of them, for how deeply do they care?
Aside from the fact that their indifference amounts to foolishness, for at the consequences they sneer,
Well, effectively, that is — their understanding and compassion stunted, or they too busy-cum-distracted,
Such all adding to the reasons why so many damaged people have very injuriously acted.

Oh, when anger burns.

By Lance Landall

6.  When Help's Not There

There are many who’re in need of help, and they wanting help, but what do they do when help’s not there,
Or at least not as it should be, needs to be? Enter frustration, hurt, depression and despair.
And why many who’re trying to change give up, return to their old ways — they thinking, “What’s the use?” —
And given that some can’t cope on their own, make little headway, it’s no wonder that such they deduce.

It’s so easy to bag people behaving poorly, but how many cries have gone unheard, or,
To put it another way, have been ignored? Others not responding to their knock on the door.
And why some who’re feeling desperate turn to desperate measures — and yes, now we’re talking crime,
Which could've been avoided if someone had thrown them a lifeline, or some ladder to climb.

“It’s their problem,” folk say — well, not for long, for ignored cries can fester, hence some backlash that comes,
And bearing in mind too, that things can become too much for some, and why we need to do our sums.
Otherwise, something unfortunate can duly come our way, or ripple through society,
Such being good reason why we shouldn’t ignore anyone’s struggles-cum-cries and anxiety.

Yes, ignored cries will always impact on society, those pathetic token gestures too,
For little achieves little in most cases — and so many, substantial help need and are due.
And why many who lose heart add to their problems, they feeling doomed anyway, so what the heck,
Given their ignored cries, those sad token gestures, or that help that comes too late rather than quick.

By Lance Landall

7.  Punching The Punched

“Here we go again,” Peggy muttered crossly, “Another case of child abuse. How such really angers me.”
Her friend glanced at her in a way that had her wondering. “Well, there’s far too much of it, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Oh, I’d agree alright,” Dawn responded, “And such upsets me too, but then it comes as no surprise to me,
For abused children are oft the product of parents who’ve been abused, and why we need to tread carefully.

There’re those who would string such parents up (if they got half a chance), but that would be acting just as terribly,
For abusers who’ve been abused themselves have somewhat been programmed to do the same — enter psychology.
All why they should be treated sensitively too, though I’m not condoning their dreadful actions, believe me,
But at the end of the day, what’s love? Is it something we only show to the loving? Because if that’s so,

It doesn't sound like much of a love to me, and going by that criteria, how much would people show,
For how many are squeaky-clean when it comes to the way they treat others? Well, not too many that I know.
No, they wouldn’t hurt their darling children, perhaps, but oh dear, most aren’t beyond hurting somebody out there,
Including the likes of those poor parents who have been abused themselves, and whom the tragic scars of such bear.”

“So what do we do then,” Peggy questioned, “Do we just let them off?”  “Well, I’m hardly suggesting that, Peggy,
But we do need to be looking at more constructive approaches as opposed to punitive ones, surely.
It’s all very well to jump on offenders, but bear in mind that their abused children will no doubt err too,
And thus all we’ll be doing is locking up the lot, they all suffering again — so much for our IQ.”

It seems to me that we’re either too soft or too harsh, and are unable to do things in a balanced way, sadly,
And too often are simply fixated on certain things, like that 'let’s make prisons tougher' mentality.
For pity help the wrongly accused who ends up in such a harsh jail, given there’s been so many of them,
And why knee-jerk reactions, draconian measures, and insensitivity-cum-ignorance I condemn.”

Peggy found her voice. “I see what you mean, Dawn, we effectively punching the punched.”  “Yes, Peggy, exactly.”

By Lance Landall

8.  Perhaps I Shouldn't Say This

Oh, that clamour for the death penalty, which, if they really want revenge, say,
Doesn’t make sense, ’cause executing someone is hardly how you make them pay.
But solitary confinement is! They cooped up for life and going crazy,
Which many who have experienced lockdown would relate to, if you ask me.

Oh, how hard they found such, even when having the run of their house and section,
So imagine a little cell, and for life — now can you see the connection?
Come that lethal injection or whatever, it’s over in a minute, and
They hardly suffering, dead to the world, thus less reason to strike up the band.

At least with life in a death row type cell (not that such cruelty sits well with me),
The wrongly accused won’t be put to death, like has happened far too frequently.
And thus supporters and lawyers able to keep up that battle to free them,
Because many who’re innocent, some court or jury has chosen to condemn.

And the death penalty barbaric, a tit for tat scenario, sadly,
We thereby hardly showing a more advanced and enlightened mentality.
And the same when it comes to solitary confinement, neither the best way,
But rather than rehabilitation, there’s that obsession to make them pay,

Which they don’t, when put to death, but do, when alone in that cell for life, they stay.

By Lance Landall

9.  Society's Bad Eggs

We talk a lot about putting folk in prison (society’s bad eggs), whom we condemn ferociously,
And admittedly prisons are needed, and many in them very evil indeed, unfortunately.
But to be honest, there’re far more bad eggs walking amongst us than there are in prison, and just as nasty,
Who simply haven’t been caught yet, or committed their crime yet, and some of them don’t look bad or scary.

And all those who do go to prison, very seldom come out better than they went in, unsurprisingly,
For though prisons are necessary, they do little to improve the incarcerated, ridiculously.
And nor does hard labour, for punishment is simply punishment, and unable to change one’s heart or mind,
Which is why rehabilitation is more important than those prison walls that so many are behind.

Therefore, the length of time in prison is far less important than the prisoner’s rehabilitation,
For it’s change that’s needed, unless we’re all about punishment, which just adds to the prison population,
And which also embitters the inmates, the opposite to what is best, unless of course, we just don’t care,
Which wouldn’t say much for us, for either we’re humane or not, our goodness genuine, or just a veneer.

Surely those who’ve a good heart and mind are more interested in a person’s betterment than punishment,
And thus their greater benefit to society, for there’s little benefit where more time in jail’s spent.
And surely they wouldn’t want to make jails tougher either, for too many innocents have been locked away,
And come the future, it could be any one of us, who had nothing whatsoever to do with foul play.

At the end of the day, it’s not about prisons or punishment, but all about changing the heart and mind,
That is, the rebuilding of each prisoner, helping them to put their wrong behaviour and past well behind.
Its better that something good come out of their crime, and there’s nothing better than their rehabilitation,
Whereby, they can make some sort of societal amends, which they can’t if still in jail, nursing retaliation.

And bear in mind, that many who’ve committed crimes, didn’t stand a chance given their unfortunate background,
And that there are those whose crime was not premeditated, and who, very evil offenders now surround.
Yes, offenders who influence for the worse rather than for the better, just another result of jails,
That we really need to be getting folk out of, they readjusted and more sound, no longer off the rails.

There’ll always be those who’ll probably remain behind bars, seemingly beyond redemption, tragically,
But lifetime sentences are simply punishment, and surely very short-sighted, costing society.
Better the offender become a restored and productive contributor, and as soon as possible,
That is, within reason, for punishment only goes so far, and more oft just fuels that prison carousel.

Or is revenge sweeter, currently, and our pain obscuring our objectivity.

By Lance Landall