Squaddie

How the Trauma and Struggles of World War I Helped Shape the Modern World |  Duke Today

 

Red-gold glow of stormy autumn
oughter-fade into winter
as leafy-mist lights this late
November dawn recalling me,
incuriously from insomnia,
O! the design hidden in words,
like smoke signals
rising from a gun, from a fire  drawing fire.

Tended by an old man in a black suit
the front of which, bedecked with medals,
is time-ridden by an absence missing,
gone  missing, in 1916.

Before the dreadful daylight starts
of unkept promises and broken hearts..

Fleeting meetings with this past casts a shadow
O! I can hold the line,for a time,nightmare images
tell of all that hot metal does to human flesh and bone.

Hidden in these words:   
aberrant, obsessed, selfish,
 sorry-wisps of cognition, coagulate,
fusing the light of yet another
dawn into his troubling mind of mine.

Still, the old and friendly moon haunts the sky of dawn,
in this deranged mind
passes strange
lines of time
over me.
Times fade
in unquiet music of rhyme
time to remember
the unaccompanied boys
stuck, forever-more, in the mud and gore of the western front.

Just as leaves cling to winter trees
so, too, do these lost boys cling to me..
Kicking through the  leaves, 
there is a passing stillness,
a silence, as before a barrage,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

◄ For Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones

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Comments

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keith jeffries

Fri 20th Nov 2020 08:49

John,

As a veteran of 10 years military service both at home and abroad this is the first poem which recognises that those at the front, those engaged in bitter conflict do so with their minds full of what they carry with them. Love, betrayal, anxieties, memories cherished and others rather forgotten. The act of going into conflict is a culmination of intense fear, fierce resolve and the ever hopefulness of survival. Few will ever know the horror of personal confusion in the minds of those who fought. For the life of me I cannot image the first morning of the Somme. Those lads with all their overt and hidden luggage were brave to death. It brings tears to my eyes to think of their steadfastness in the face of metal and thunder.
This poem brings to mind much. The fourth stanza touches on the mental effect of mortal combat and the knowledge that death is a whisper too close.
Thank you for this
Keith

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Stephen Atkinson

Fri 20th Nov 2020 08:21

Brilliant writing John

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Vautaw

Fri 20th Nov 2020 03:09

Wow John. Your poetry is otherworldly. Puts us in the middle of the action. “Smoke signals rising from a gun”... Such a heartbreaking tale. My 19 year old grandson wants to sign up for the military to “see the world”, I sent him this video.

Patsy J. Moore

Fri 20th Nov 2020 03:00

Do your research at https://www.google.com

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