Three Poems for Sunday
Posted: 09 November 2017
Word Count: 396
Summary: Sorry to sneak in three at once but they are only relevant this week
We lost good friends, cut down by others.
Those others’ friends? – we killed a few.
But friends, and others’ friends, had mothers,
whose lives were ended that day too,
when precious sons laid down their lives,
to serve their Kaiser and their King.
They paid the greatest sacrifice,
with unimagined suffering.
But when the guns had quietened down,
to mark the beaten Cross of Death,
they’d kicked a battered ball around …
those sons with mothers now bereft.
The wasted generation 1914-1918
(Dedicated with grateful respect to the lost boys of Crawley)
Weather-beaten village sons,
driven mad by German guns;
The shepherd lads torn from their sheep,
then torn to shreds themselves at Ypres;
Young labourers from the Sussex Weald,
left dying in some foreign field;
The brick yard boys of old West Green,
slaughtered by the war machine;
Those plough boys of the chalkland vale,
dead in the mud of Passchendaele.
Newly khakied vagabonds
equalled, all, by death at Mons.
Fallen teenage heroes all,
just answering their country’s call.
The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys
I see lanes down which village lads
marched off to war with pride
and read the list of long lost names
that lump the throat and wet the eyes,
their orphans, playing children’s games
in memory of lost fathers’ lives,
engraved upon memorial stones
which proudly face their exit road
as if such gestures can atone
the monumental debt that's owed.
But hearts it seems no longer dwell
within the mindset of today,
like those that beat within the breasts
of our youthful troops of yesterday
when young boys khakied for their King
reacted to a man each one
and rushed to do the decent thing
exchanging ploughshares for the gun.
With fathers’ tales of Kimberley
and Mafeking in their heads,
they marched to meet their destiny
of mud, and gas, and death
and spurred them on to burnt-out eyes
and horrid broken minds and limbs.
Unquestioned duty paid in full to
England, God, and George their King.
With treasured tattered photographs
of loved ones buttoned tight,
they faced undreamt of horrors
and the slaughter of the fight.
In muddied tunic pockets
precious love so sorely missed,
they faced their roles, while dreaming all,
of sweethearts left unkissed.
A century down time’s long track,
their great-grandchildren, poppied red,
from lessons never learned, look back
remembering their beloved dead.
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