Unto the Somme

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Entrenched
Behind failing lines,
These curtains of shrapnel and sharp steel
Conceal my misery,
So seamlessly, absently
I go on, numb, alone,
For sensation no longer blesses me.

Relentlessly, I force back my fear,
The absent tears never reach my cheeks
And thick blankets of earth and sand
Choke my cries, damp,  pitiful.
I fall to the boards clotted with death
As my breath abandons me
To my miserable lot.

The heavens pelt me relentlessly,
Mocking me, who should ever be here
By the hand in the air, waving frantically,
Stupidity, and with utter lucidity
I have made my own bed
And must now lie down
And die in it.

But before I am done, I am up,
The screams of dawn chills my bones
Gnawed weak by seasons grip,
As I slip in the filth, trip blindly
Over fallen men
That will not see another day;
I envy them.

Distant annihilation mocks me,
Thunder, not made by god, but Hawthorn;
She begs for blood.
And as she throws her filthy innards skywards
The flood of claret and mud
Clots my throat - I reach and vomit
Into my tin skull.

A lull, short, but eternal
Fills the dead air,
Then the shouts of madmen
Send me once more to my feet
Rotted beneath useless boots.
I swallow back through the agony
And brace.

Blinded by bedlam, I crawl up.
My breath held, my thoughts lost,
I cast myself over the top,
And into the red dirt -
Clawing my way under the razor wire,
It begins to cut the soul from my back
Then tears out twenty-thousand more.

battleconflictdeathpoemsoldierwarworld war I

◄ Broken Alone

Danse Macabre (The Dance of Death) ►

Comments

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Ian Whiteley

Wed 1st May 2013 11:23

Fantastic poem full of rich imagery Simon. Really enjoying reading your stuff.
Ian

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 27th Apr 2013 13:17

Powerful stuff that also does justice to other conflicts in which the single human spirit grapples with horrors almost beyond imagining in the struggle to survive and make sense, however remote at that time, of what is being endured. My late father survived the trenches of 1917/18, while a maternal uncle died in action in 1916. They would surely have recognised the content of this poem.

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