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Futility (apologies to Wilfred Owen)


Forget, forget,

Her rallying cry;

Forget, forget

The reason why;

Forget, forget

Our fathers lied,

Was it for this the clay grew tall?

—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil

To break earth's sleep at all?

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wilfred owenRemembrance

Normandy Veterans at the Airport

They are old now, almost beyond age;

Pushed around, pinned into wheelchairs.

Though chaperoned, they seem unclaimed.

They hold up placards, give a wave

And do their best to summon up a grin,

Before we spirit them toward the beaches

Where, nearly eighty years ago,

They put their young lives on the line

To keep the locals and unborn safe.

We should salute and honour them,


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Insult to Injury


There’s a flower, that’s for Remembrance;

Poppy of Hope in the rat-race gutter,

Some ego trip by town hall plastic patriots,

Aimed to set our hearts a-flutter,

Whilst sentimental platitudes they parrot;

It might as well be on the Brighton Line,

As into oblivion it’s daily smeared and ground,

By t...

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poppyRemembranceParish Church

Gaslight Charade

“Remembrance is our duty”, preachers scold.

The duty’s yours, not mine; my conscience? Clear.

I’ve stood on duty, rain, hail, freezing cold,

Protesting first the lies, then deaths, then tears.


Remembrance, once in quiet grief-struck thought,

Derides now, that their warm red blood had run.

The flower of our hope’s debased and mocked,

Out on parade with Strictly Tit and B...

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Remembrancethe Fallendutyconsciencepeace

Please Remember Me


For those who sleep from battles lost

And paid, for us, the ultimate cost


For all who came back from war

Forever scarred by what they saw


The lucky ones, 

      so they say

They got to see 

       another day


But their friends who fell

At the toll of death's bell 

Still haunt their dreams

Upon the fields of screams


Where poppies now dwel...

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Poppy Rocks Bollocks

This poppy was recently made for me as an impromptu gift, by a young lady who had been researching her family tree, and had found that a male relative had served in the RAF in WW2. I will always treasure it.


I wrote the following probably ten years ago.


On Armistice Day, (which, by now, all should know,

Marks the end of World War Number One),

I remembered Them, as I sat...

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Armistice DayWW1WW2WW3Poppy Rocks BallRemembranceYemen

The Last Call

As the yellow mist

rolls across the fields

of slaughter

The young man thinks

Of  his unborn daughter

How would she have looked?

How would she have grown?

Would her heart have been full

From the love he had shown?

Would her smile have been his?

Would her eyes have been blue?

And shimmer in sunlight

like fresh morning dew?


Yet, he knew not her mother


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Don't Forget


The unknown soldier beckons


Don't forget, don't forget


The lost, who somewhere lie


Don't forget, don't forget


The grieving family ties


Don't forget, don't forget


The defeated & the broken


Don't forget, don't forget


with mental scars unspoken


Don't forget, don't forget


The veteran in the street


Don't forget...

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The Unknown Soldier's Prayer

The Unknown Soldier’s Prayer


I could be your husband, father, son.

The lost bones of another pointless war.

A flag to drape across my resting place,

transported from a distant, hostile shore.


I could have been a tinker, tailor, thief ,

lying here for a century and more,

those passing trades mean little to me - now

the angry guns have relinquished their roar.



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unknown soldiercentenaryprayerwarremembrance

The Old Garden Gate

A WWI remembrance poem

(First published online for Northern Life magazine 2018)


It creaked as he left:

The old garden gate

He’d promised to fix it

But now it was too late


Tearful in the doorway

His mother cries out,

‘Do it when you’re back, Billy!’

And of this she has no doubt


He waves,

And off to glory are the swathes

Of boys, and men in their pr...

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Elegy For A Ghost

Elegy For A Ghost


Some say ghosts are chilling things

Ethereal and fleeting

But they’re not


They are the empty chair

The pint not bought in a round

The hiss at the end of a telephone line

The deleting of a mobile number


They are the sad spaces

That once held you

On the terraces

At the bar

In the conversation


Ghosts are sad things

They h...

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day 18NaPoWriMo 2019elegygriefremembrance

In Memoriam

In Memoriam


The gravestones in this place are wet with tears

Of children, wives and husbands who have stood

Beside dark holes that swallow up their fears

Replacing ice water where once flowed blood.

November skies are grey and hold no lights,

The flowers flattened in a winter gale

That whips away dark thoughts the widow fights

To keep hidden behind her mourning veil.


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day 4NaPoMoWri 2019sad sonnetsadsonnetgrave yardremembrancegriefgrieving

A Poppy In Winter

A Poppy In Winter


November mists come down in shrouds of grey

and folk remember, with their poppies red,

the loss of sixteen million war dead

and how the guns fell silent on this day.

So who are you to deem to have a say

on whether I should honour those who bled

by crimson colours? – or perhaps, instead,

in remembrance there is another way.

For I would guess that mo...

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petrarchan sonnetwhite poppyremembrancepeacealternative

We Shall Remember

41 million casualties since the war began

John Condon among them, died like a man

He was only 18 when he met his demise

Ypres, Belgium he finally closed his eyes


We shall remember


He wasn’t the youngest to serve in this plight

In Serbia Momčilo Gavrić claimed that right

Promoted to corporal instead of being at school

At eight years old he was the armies fuel.



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war poetrysoldiersFirst world warremembrance

No Flowers on the Bridge

Life's a game of take & give 
Just tell me how did it come to this? 
They walked their way into the abyss 
But I see no flowers, on the bridge? 

The laughs, the screams  
The night, far from your dreams 
A city bows as it continues to live 
But I see no flowers, on the bridge?

The sirens call and the thunders rolls
In a stranger, solace unfolds
How can your story ever be told?
But n...

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London BridgeLondonremembrance

Gave Me Up To Tears

Gave Me Up To Tears


"And all my mother came into mine eyes
And gave me up to tears."
— William Shakespeare, Henry V


The air tastes of mashed potatoes

When she looks into your eyes

And you look back at the fear and hurt

And she says she’s sorry for dragging you here

And you tell her it’s nothing

Even though you were complaining

That very same thing on the drive h...

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Red Poppies On An Autumn Day

Red Poppies On An Autumn Day


Never forgotten – here to stay,

a symbol of the hurt and pain

where young men will forever lay.


The old man sells and we will pay

to wear a token for the slain -

never forgotten – here to stay.


Would they have approved? Who can say

If what was lost was worth the gain.

Red poppies on an autumn day


They had little choice ...

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villanelle formpoppiesautumnremembrancepoppy symbolpoppy seller

a peaceful warrior

a peaceful warrior


next week

I’ll make a mark

to show my choice

and there will be

no hate

no fear

no injustice

In that decision


it will be

for the future

for the greater good


it will not be

for brutal killers




from over there

or right here


it will be everything

but that


it will be


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Jo Coxmurderprayerremembrance


Somewhere in between

the waking and the dream,

I can feel you close to me.


Just before times hands

reshape the desert sands,

I can feel you reach for me.


In the blink of tear stained eyes,

watching weary to the skies,

I can see you cry for me.


In the breaking of the dawn,

in the dew upon the lawn,

I can see you smile for me.


In the bright ray...

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Black bullet hole wound
blooms red November petals.
Blood and remembrance.

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Your touch still lingers on my skin like the warm yet cold breeze of the wind,


Your kiss heavy leaves an imprint on my lips like the moist rain that steadily drips,


Your laugh still gives me the bees in my gut like hiding from the storm in that little hut,


Your body close to mine in a gentle embrace like the love surrounding our little space,


Your voice calming an...

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Flanders Field

Marching on together through the fire and the flame, Sent to war as boys, but they became men this day,
Heroes of a nation, who would have knew
That they risked their lives for everyone, valiant and true.   The darkness of the battlefield, will blind them all their lives
The images that they have seen shall remain upon their minds
Yet in this hour of war, they sheltered us with their ...

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It Is Nothing

But one single bullet, from barrel to throat,
Choked and opened the wounds of the world,
Unfurled in the seat of a phaeton,
Played on like the most tragic of tragedies,
Greek in essence but eastern in substance,
As Sophie wilts in the lap of Austria,
A single shot through the heart of a continent,
The blood racing fast to the carriage beneath,
Signals the start of relentless war lines,

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assassinationdeathpoemremembrancesoldierwarworld war oneWW1WWI

I waited ...


In the mist,

amazed at the helpless loneliness,

sadness was present to remember

especially when I loved you and now intend to deny


full of rain and wind, turn to screams your memories:

perhaps imagining that you understand how I feel


How I miss you!

I was not the cause of the pain ...

And I'll wait until it dries the dew;

until you have no m...

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In hushed and reverent tones

we watched the daylight fade

until it winked out

in a final spark of twilight.

Heads bowed

we felt them slip away

all their bright energy

dissipating in the growing gloom.


Tears then

corroding and eating

at our souls

until there were

no more

saline teeth

chewing at

our memories.



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9/11 terrorismtwin towersslaughter of the innocentsangel of deathazraelremembrance

Remembrance Observation

He punches at a name in stone

as if the warmth of knuckle and fist

could penetrate the cold,

a brother’s arm plunge deep

beyond the gilt

to find its home

curled up in sleep

upon an ocean bed

connect with flesh and bone.




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Why does mankind wage war and kill?


What is the purpose, why the pain

to live in hope and die in vain?

As mourning turns love lost -  to blame,

and man repeats the vengeful game.


For lessons missed in histories pay

for dogma we shall die today,

for in our words and deeds we sow

a deathly seed we do not know.


So do we tar religions door

or those who send us off to war?

Who ...

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OLD SOLDIERS - a poem for Remembrance Day

Young man - mark them marching by,

Their medals catch the light.

Look and hold your head up high,

You'll see no finer sight.


Old men passing in their pride

Were once as young as you.

Now - as then - they're side by side,

But now they're growing few.


And should one chance to catch your eye,

Young man, don't look away;

In far-off fields their co...

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Remembranceold soldiers

I Veteran

                                                                 I Veteran



I try,

            Ten maybe fifteen years in a row to attend

It has been! I walk past at speed,

Anxiety rising within a throat of hurt,

My jaw clenched as I negotiate the crowd –

But my stride is slowed and I catch glimpses

Of the veterans in uniform,

And my tears are checked ...

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And I would breathe life

into those lips that once kissed,

colour to the face that smiled,

bathe those sightless eyes with tears,

hydrate the ravaged corners of your mind


And if the drip of all my anguish left you still,

empty shell of all you were, no more

I would care for you in death

just as I cared for you before,

gently thread your hair with tender...

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Remembranceidentitylaying to rest


Lest – lest, pay heed lest

we for-get we are the best;

lose sight of Old England’s story

one of endless power and glory

blood-and-gutsy, primal, gory;

triumph in each foreign land.


Might - might, ours by right

just remember might is right!

None surpass the English Army

foes like Hitler – all are barmy

same for Mullah, same for Swami;

Christ is E...

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Nine Eleven Tribute


Nine Eleven Tribute

No words of mine or others can change what went before
We can but stand in silence and remember them once more
Though years roll by without restraint and some images fade
The sights we saw upon that day are indelibly engraved

So hear a plea around the world to end all senseless feu...

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I only glimpse it now, so far away, but bright and clear.

The rapture of  a fading world - another place, some other year.

Those nights of shattered moonlight strewn on marbled seas,

where frangipani whispers were caresses on the breeze.


From the shadow of the palms I watched you dance

the tideline, shed your silks, and with one glance

you robbed my soul and beckoned wit...

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Two war poems (edited!)



In those final quickening hours

we sat, and weighed the snare-drum rhythm

of our failing hearts, sucking warmth from

close-pinched cigarettes and old memories.

Our sergeant paced, checked his watch for lies,

and ignored the muffled sobs disguised as coughs

-  his whistle hanging heavy as a prayer.


Seconds fell like dominoes, and in the dark,

kisses fell on photographs an...

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The Gift

The Gift 


“You have his hands” they say.

Blunt, broad, and strong;

the rounded nails and heavy palms, his grip.

Some memory, stored within each line,

each fingertip, each scar, from half a life away.

Old-leather hard with work and age;

weather-carved and worn with every s...

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