Wednesday, 16 February 2011

War Poetry Today

To add a poem

It's all very easy  - even if the following sounds complicated. Try it and see! You will need to click on "Comments" then paste or type your poem in the "Post a comment" box. Select a "profile" from the drop-down list. If you have an account with one of the items on the list please use it, otherwise select "Anonymous" and post your poem. It should appear instantly on this website/blogsite.

There are many poems on this topic on The War Poetry website.


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  3. Dear Jason

    Having set up this poetry blog page I now find that the only way I can communicate with contributors is through this comment box.

    The Pace of Waiting is a beautiful poem. Thank you for adding it to the website. I just wondered if you could tell us a little more about the place and situation that inspired it.

    Best wishes
    David Roberts
    Editor the War Poetry website,

    1. susan carol willis27 March 2014 at 11:52


      I can not move my British Army boot is stuck.
      Thick black insipid mud, coloured red now by my men’s blood.
      Acrid and thick the smoke of death fills the air,
      How I long for the cool clean country air.

      I close my eyes tightly a brief respite from horror.
      For this is my grave my final resting place, of that I have no doubt.
      No flowers for me or a grave for others to weep,
      No Pretty Wiltshire church bathed in summer sunlight.

      Oh Mother, my mother who gave me life,
      Please God one last embrace one last sweet word of love.
      You will not get the chance to stand before my grave and say farewell.
      Sweet , memories of my earlier years, haystacks and cider golden and warm in the jar.
      No more the country boy, just another victim of this bloody War.
      “Over, the top” I hear the cry I try to move my foot.
      Over the top, to sweet release.

      For King and Country and happier days, my eighteen years have not been in vain. Over the top to a place unknown, but I have prayed it is into the arms of the mother that I left at home.


    A moment for the madness, inside my mind contained,
    I devour this sick splendour of passion unrestrained,
    Yearning for the presence of a brave, divulging teacher,
    An efficacious, sombre sermon from the war’s most honest preacher.

    I can so well remember the poignant nature of your poem,
    My admiration and fascination, faithfully keep on growing,
    Through evocation, truth spills and spurts, from the wound of knowing,
    The desperation, the indignation, that kept your anger flowing.

    Truthful not delectable, you claimed your verse to be,
    A mocking, livid statement on man’s inhumanity,
    An earnest pledge, a grim request, to seek out harmony,
    To save their souls from likely death, by a ruthless enemy.

    I cannot claim, unlike yourself, to have fought in any war,
    Yet keen I am to understand the hate and hurt you saw,
    To stamp upon perfidious prose which side-steps evil ways,
    And slaughter lies with the bravery, that you yourself displayed.

    K. L. Adamson


    Will you walk with me,
    Along the wounded shore?
    Gaze out to sea at the mass
    Of roaring water, crawling
    Inwards in frothing gargles,
    Only to be thrown so violently
    Backwards to its place of birth.

    Will you look at me,
    As you idly stroll along
    The battered coastline?
    Catch the eye of a soldier,
    Light glimmering in his pupils,
    Reflecting like the ocean
    England’s glory off its surface,
    A sad array of stones to
    Keep the lonely company.

    Take me now, good friend,
    And lay me with gentleness
    Down upon a boulder –
    Jagged and sanded like the
    Metal of an exploded shell –
    Draw your fingers across
    My eyelids, and burn into
    Them an image of silence,
    Be it broken by curses:
    Lapping waves muted by
    Roaring bellows of drowning
    Bodies, immersed in water,
    Preserved in irreversible impotency.

    Will you walk with me,
    Head held up, through the
    Changing sands of time?
    And remember a torment,
    So vivid in my mind’s eye?
    Think not of it, for it disturbs
    Peace I know, but occasionally,
    When you feel the wind whip
    Across a spread of sand,
    A dusty upheaval of bones and
    Chalk alike, Regrettable in
    Nature but noble in act,
    Gaze down at that mussel
    And know clasped deep inside,
    I lie in meaning, as I am
    Washed up by the ocean tide.

    K. L. Adamson

  6. Reflections of East Timor from an ex Australian Navy Clearance Diver.
    This was a 'wordscape' (I don't pretend it is a poem, that came to me during the initial Australian intervention into the East Timor Crisis. The people on the ground included those I had worked with in my previous life as a Navy Diver.


    Jakarta flames & flashes up at us.
    I imagine angry faces turned south
    behind a cloak of blackness.
    We pass overhead
    leaving crystals of ice
    to fall in our wake.
    I flush hard and smell
    a fresh orchard.
    To the north the gods tear
    great rents in the ebony shawl.
    Flashes of lightning
    turning night to day.

    Behind to the south the
    people burn.
    Another generation of
    Diggers sweat in
    their greens.
    They think of home,
    as they lie still and wet,
    listening to the crawling night.

    I touch your pictures as we
    flash into the northern hemisphere
    at 15 kilometres a minute,
    and thank God and
    generations of ANZACS
    that we are free...
    and you are all safe within
    Tuscan coloured walls
    and steel fences of wheat.

    Peter of Australia

  7. Unsound of mind
    what causes my soul to yearn for what causes me such pain?
    and where is the source of the river of tears i cry?
    Is it even possible that the rivalry, that the conflict i feel
    is just two halves of my heart flying by?

    I love him, nay, I love another.
    One and both, and neither.
    With my all, and nothing at all.
    Is it possible that i don't love myself either?

    Am I so blinded by selfish desire that who is mine is never their own?
    an endless warped fantasy of mindless, sensless drones?
    and i seek to find the only One.
    The One who reels me back in after I've been overblown.

    Are they just a dirty gauze placed over a festering wound?
    All and none, and all that are around?
    the ones I call to when they are needed
    and, without a care, cast them aground?

    My constant search, and lack to find,
    and I use and abuse and leave them behind.
    the pain, unbearable, the disgust with myself.
    A woman with many lovers, and unsound of mind.

  8. The Pace of Waiting

    The sunflowers grow tall
    . . . in fields we don’t know,
    leaning over the broken bodies

    of men younger than the day
    . . . of men wiser
    than night.

    Soldiers . . . inhaling
    the light of sunset;
    a reveille to the angels.

    These men . . . chivalrous,
    sanguine; anxious to make proud
    their transfigured fathers.

    Unaware, it would seem,
    of the world’s way of forgetting
    . . . and not forgiving.

    These men . . . a man, dreaming
    in black and blue. Wondering if the
    blood, the pain, is a gift for his god.

    Hoping invisible hands
    will gather all his relevant pieces
    . . . and let his hour be peaceful.

    That those he loves most
    will conquer this distance,
    sit alongside him,
    and carry him home.

    Jason Sturner
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

    I don't remember exactly when I wrote this poem, but I do know it was written shortly after the Iraq War began. The poem "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" by W.B. Yeats, with its timeless quality and heartbreaking tone, influenced me and the writing of my poem.

  9. Baltic Breeze

    The brisk Baltic breeze
    Breathes it's briny breath
    Before the brave boatmen
    Who buried their brothers-
    Slain by black-hearted brigands
    Whose blood now flows
    Into the blind abyss.

    by Mike Shugart

  10. Twenty-Fifty

    It’s 2050 and the world is not well,
    There’s a global sickness, a miasmic smell,
    For the world is still fighting; it’s all gone to hell,
    And there are so many dead, so who tolls the bell?

    “It’s for God”, “It’s for freedom”, they all used to cry,
    “It’s a struggle for justice”, for that we will try
    To wipe out our neighbours. To compound the lie
    We will cry for our brothers and wish them goodbye.

    The wars have not finished, there’s no end in sight,
    With each passing year say goodbye to the light,
    For the darkness still grows; say hello to the night,
    To stay true to our past we continue to fight.

    We’ve forgotten that earlier wars were the same,
    Different times, different weapons, but still just a game,
    But with death as the prize, not fortune or fame,
    “For our country!”, “For democracy!”, “In Allah’s great name!”

    Can we ever change, our ancient flawed race?
    Will we ever stop hating, and stand face to face
    With our enemies as friends? A change to the pace
    Of destruction of all that was good in this place.

    by Russell Makinson

  11. Youth.

    Youth is the cost that young men must pay,
    When old men make wars, is there no other way?

    They say youth is wasted on the young,but I say,
    It's time we stopped fighting there must be a way.

    Youth is our future, a thing to protect,
    So shout out this message to those we elect.

    That War is too costly for the youth of today,
    Lets stop War forever, there must be a way.

    by Chris Makinson
    Rochdale, England.


    Can one Poem turn into a Story?
    Can one Poem turn into a Dream?
    Can one Poem turn into a Movie,
    For the whole World to see?
    But if one Poem could do so much damage,
    The governments will outlaw what will be said!
    For the World fears their governments,
    Until the whole World is dead!

    But as NATO tries to conquer the World,
    With their unlawful ideas!
    Each Nation will fall to only one president,
    Before they are all dead!
    For as each Nation tries to fight for their freedom,
    NATO will be there instead!
    Raping even their children,
    Before they are all dead!

    But as each Nation refuses to join the United Nations,
    They will only to go to war instead!
    When the CIA, France, and Britain,
    Controls the citizens’ heads!
    For the citizens will all join their irreligion,
    And fight their own presidents instead!
    As CIA and NATO will control each Nation,
    Until the whole World is dead!

    But as a Poem that is written,
    Will become outlawed instead!
    Each word that will be written,
    Is to destroy your governments instead!
    For each word that is written,
    Another child will die!
    As their New World Order that will be given,
    To each child as they die!

    Iraq, Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, and Egypt,
    They are falling to their grave!
    As France, Britain, and the U.S.A.,
    Tries to take over the World instead!
    But as each Nation that is foolish,
    To join the United Nations instead!
    May you all burn into a hell,
    That NATO created for us to live!

    But as each Nation becomes poorer,
    One day the devil’s mark will take part!
    And replace the money that you are spending,
    While you have a foolish heart!
    But yet you allow your governments to kill children,
    While you lay with yours instead!
    So that your governments can control each Nation,
    With their foolish ideas!

    But one day NATO will fall,
    Into the wrong hands!
    And they will fear the Poem that was written,
    To send them into a hell that was made!
    For as each person joins NATO,
    You will only end up in the same place!
    A hell that will last forever,
    For all of the humans that now do live in their graves….

    4/5/11 11:04:PM


  13. WAVES
    Upon the sand; a wave of water fell.
    Where's it's from; a mystery tell.

    Mothers sent their boys to war
    Now they meet in Valhalla's lore

    Destroyers Scurry; Battleships blast.
    Infantry hope it's not their last.

    Men descend by nets and ropes.
    Down from the sides and into boats.

    Prayers to God "My Soul to Save"
    Riding boxes to their grave.

    Waves of nausea foams the lips.
    Side to side rocks boats and ships.

    The Bow is up and then the stern.
    Stomachs heave and acid burns.

    Mock brave some lad begins to sing
    Others duck the occasional ping.

    Fleeting glimpses, twinkling flashes
    Here and there the monstrous splashes.

    Where a boat pushes through the boil
    Then a flash and only oil.

    Lookouts cry, "Beware the Mines."
    Engines groan, gearbox grinds.

    From the land and to the shore
    Bullets ripped and bodies gored.

    First one lands and then another
    Some cry silent; some cry "Mother!"

    "Let's go men; Let's go forward."
    Up the beach they charged onward.

    Up the bluffs they braved the fire
    Some shot blind; others blew wire.
    Robert Smith; and Julius Meyer.

    Boys made men and men made dead.
    Thought of friends brought pain and dread.

    Nightmares filled the darkening sky.
    Day lived over for those alive.

    Quiet comes the morning; the virgin dew unstepped.
    All is well; the grass so neatly kept.

    "Dress Right Dress; Form straight ranks."
    "The visitors are here to leave their thanks."

    Some never made it to the sand.
    The wave gently pushed them to the land.

    The waves that rocked them from their shore.
    Now rocks them all night evermore.

    Kent Herrick
    June 24, 2007

  14. Valhalla’s Hall

    Standing fast, shoulders pressed,
    knowing not of ill fate prescribed
    Each held, proud brothers,
    ‘til faded breath by red earth claim

    Then silent rest in mist of time
    ‘til legend told resolves solid,
    Heroes faded by memory lost,
    to steel the line of warriors new.

    So hold fast brother,
    no quarter give to orphan fear
    feel ghostly shoulder to thy side
    ‘er this night we stand in bond

    If dawn be lost to night’s cruel deed,
    warrant not despair of loss,
    for honour spent by price of blood,
    pays full thy place in Valhalla’s hall.

    W. A. CAREW


    Why is he not recognised as a hero his rating with the world seems to be a big fat zero.

    Thinking of all those war torn areas where he has fought putting into action all the techniques he had been taught.

    He gets flashbacks from what he has seen through his military eyes he tries to act normal but it’s just a hero’s disguise.

    He is proud of what he has done fighting for freedom is what he has won.

    This man should be thanked for putting his life on the line for love, peace and freedom this truly must be a sign.

    Many lives have been perished, in this struggle remembering these brave men their efforts we have always cherished.

    Lin Hanney ©

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  17. Hannah Carpenter29 May 2011 at 13:14

    Oh Granddad my hero, if only they knew
    The torment and torture they gave to you
    Yet people forget and try to move on
    But the scars are still there and feelings not gone.
    You made it through just all skin and bone
    ...You kept your humour, for there’s no time to moan
    The man was left; you still had your pride
    But memories, so deep still haunted inside
    Memories no one could get to but a few
    The rest were buried alongside of you
    “You shouldn’t know”, is what you said
    “The fear, the lies, the hate, the dread.”
    To bury your friend is bad enough,
    To bury so many your hearts became tough
    And on that note I’ll leave it along with the rest
    For you and your mothers interest at best.
    A four and a half stone man came home from war
    Found his street his home his wooden front door
    “The postcard was wrong, it said you were well”
    “They lied my love; I have just been to hell”
    The forgotten army was the title they gave
    Yet thousands and thousand still lie in that grave
    And I’ve got this medal, so what do I do
    Wear it proudly they said
    No thank you.
    I am no hero, i cannot say more
    I was just part of this horrible war
    And now I shall live my life everyday
    Remembering those who’s was taken away.
    By Hannah Carpenter. In honour of Louis Andrew Gordon EX P.O.W

  18. On Dusty Paths

    Their pleading cries
    can still be heard.
    Within our minds
    their faces burn.

    On dusty paths
    their bodies died.
    The general’s math
    had sadly lied.

    Their tanks destroyed,
    bullets strewn about.
    They’ll say they enjoyed
    the fruitless bout

    In our forces we trust’
    it’s an absolute must.

    By Michael Rossyan

  19. Soldiers Called
    ©2009 (Jim Sularz)

    In a strange Land, in a far-off Sea, ships set sail to scar Man and Earth.

    When diplomacy fails, shattering Hopes for Peace, hate propels War’s unwanted birth.

    Months and years of mock exercise and drills to check complete.

    To prepare for a War that may never come, but is born when tyranny’s unleashed.

    On that tearful day when Soldiers called, break formation to say goodbye.

    Children rush out to clutch Soldier’s legs, tremble, and start to cry.

    But Soldiers know, they have to go, to keep play soldiers safe.

    From yet another tyranny, in yet, another place.

    On embattled shores where fallen foes and heroes fiercely fight.

    The battle ground will be sanctified by those who die that night.

    Through the grime, and with sweat, and with blood, and with tears.

    Through the horror of War,
    many frozen with fear.

    From battle to battle, fighting shore to shore.

    Nothing escapes from the Hands of War.

    Men killing Men with all of their might.

    Unchain a Bomb with a blinding light.

    When a long, brutal War finally ends - claiming it’s broken and countless dead.

    The Boys that charged as a spirited Godsend - return dazed, War hardened, Iron Men.

    And when some Soldiers come Home, they’re never quite the same.

    Because their silent War rages on, every Night and every Day.

    On Veteran’s day with the cheering crowds and the waving flags.

    They celebrate the Soldier’s sacrifice in a very special way.

    But a Soldier’s mind is just a flash away.

    To a place called Hell where they died that day.

    Now, with the Soldiers worn and their bodies bent.

    A once embattled foe has become a friend.

    And when the Day comes, to blow the final taps for all.

    The old Units will be lined up and ready - for the last Roll Call.

  20. Politicians

    It’s the politicians that get us in these wars
    And ask us to get them out
    When they’ve fucked up the diplomacy
    And lost all political clout
    But it’s not them that’s dying
    It’s not their bodies on the line
    It’s not their mothers crying
    When they’ve lost a son so fine

    It’s the ministers that send us there
    To do their dirty work
    They know that we’ll do our best
    And our duty we won’t shirk
    But they don’t spend six months or more
    Away from family and kin
    They don’t have to hide the truth
    About the shithole they’re living in

    It’s the ministry that provides us
    With all this Gucci kit
    But for all their fine words and promises
    There’s so much of it still shit
    But they cut the funding stealthily
    For a couple of quid less to spend
    Whilst they’re lining their pockets on taxpayers money
    The Forces make do and mend

    It’s the men in suits that don’t listen
    To the uniforms’ advice
    When they blindly shove us in a war
    With a careless roll of the dice
    But there’s military out there that’s knackered
    And kit that’s knackered to boot
    But will the suits stop our deployments?
    I guess that point is moot

    By Russell Makinson

  21. Bastogne

    I sit and wait for dawn to break..
    My feet and hands so raw and numb.
    And then I hear a whispered prayer,
    That soon our Uncle Sam would come.

    I gaze across the cratered field
    Flashbacks forever in my mind.
    And think of all the friends I’ve lost,
    The headstones I may leave behind.

    Both trees and men lay side by side.
    Their limbs bore witness to the night..
    Smashed and twisted corpses remain.
    A sickening, now common sight.

    We held against overwhelming odds,
    As death reigned down upon our line.
    And sank into our makeshift homes,
    To hide from mortar shells that whine.

    Men cried out for their pain to end.
    We listened, wanting them to stop.
    Then one by one each crying ceased.
    And so ended our finest crop.

    Dawn casts light on broken trees.
    I catch a glimpse of men in haste .
    My rifle raised, I fire a round.
    He stops, then falls, a lifeless waste.

    They came and came and never stopped.
    Each wave stronger than before.
    The smell of cordite consumed the air.
    Into their ranks our bullets tore.

    And then at last an eerie quiet
    Descended on our battlefield.
    We gathered up our fallen men
    And vowed to them, we’d never yield.

    by Fergal Kirby

  22. Damned demon place

    Drowning, rotting coats subdue their forms,
    Weighed down by perpetual gruesome toil.
    Heavy items strapped across their backs,
    For digging through France’s sodden soil.

    Sounds of footsteps in the wringing earth.
    More men march, plodding towards the front.
    It will come their time to enter hell,
    New soldiers, strangers, to take the brunt.

    I have no wish to know them as they come,
    For they will surely die as they are men.
    Cannon fodder for the general's medal chest,
    Who bravely orders, “die for me again.”

    A man explodes along the snaking line,
    His hand flies and hits me in the face.
    Reaching forth I know whose hand it was;
    We were friends, in this damned demon place.

    Crowds of men gather round the corpse.
    Ugly red flows freely to the ground.
    Heads bowed in memory of this once man,
    Then collectively leave without a sound.

    I write this as I await another call,
    To fling myself upon approaching doom
    To make my way through hellish no-mans land;
    Final resting place,shell hole for a tomb.

    by Fergal Kirby

  23. Together again

    Mother I ask that you keep our love; no longer should you sit at my grave and weep
    Don’t hold to those feelings of pain and sorrow, let me now lie let me now sleep
    Strength you grew within this man, now your strength you must also show
    For women of our nation who grieve, all of them must learn to eventually let us go

    We do not leave you abandoned all alone, with spirits we shall keep you here
    When you feel the sadness raw within, remember your fallen are always near
    The slight of a kiss you dreamt asleep, I was that one just to let you know
    The sense of a hand within yours, only me showing I am never letting you go

    The whisper of an echo from the past, my words like the wind saying I love you
    The dream of a firm caress of you, I am holding you close for our love is true
    Always you sense of something near, have faith my love will never wane
    I watch over the ones dear to me, waiting until
    we all are together again

    David McDonald

  24. A soul will cry

    This tiny bead of clear salted liquid, this essence of a life held within a tear
    Falling tumbling and rolling ever so slowly, down a moist cheek past an ear
    A multitude of memories held fast within, a liquid that holds them secretly in
    Where did this lonely globule come from, which place from where did it begin

    Did it come from a simple painful origin, a blinking red and sad tearful eye?
    Sent out to follow a loud silent journey, expelled by one who had to cry
    Was it a token of a heartbroken emotion, even a heart escaping on its own?
    With the emotion that sent the original, are there more that have to be shown

    Was it issued by a single spent bullet, the one that took that single life away?
    The small piece of hot spiteful metal, it would not know its action that day
    What of the finger that squeezed a trigger, a man fighting an enemy of hate
    Careful sight along a rifle barrel, an action with no thought of a man’s fate

    What matter the cause of such actions, they matter not on this sad day
    Here stands head bowed a shattered woman; her life has been taken away
    The soldier she loved with unlimited emotion, devotion unbounded bound now
    Her love for this man was all she had wanted, taken away it mattered not how

    Again a life lost with other consequence, more lives shattered with this one
    A scene copied so often funeral rehearsed, that gives no solace to soul alone
    The tear will run till it runs dry, it will be lost as easily as a heart can break
    The love that stays within broken hearts, love that only two lovers can make

    So the grave will be filled as a heart is emptied, a soul will cry out in pain
    A woman left in total confusion, unsure of the future a face tear stained
    Her life will continue with a love inside, interred within her tearing heart
    Now she must face as others before her, what life has left her to start?

    David McDonald

  25. Where do you go?

    Where do you go today my love, look not for me where I fell
    Do not kneel at the middle of the day, near the toll of a church bell
    Ask not my comrades of how I died; ask instead my family of how I lived
    I am not a shell of a fallen soldier, better I am the memory of one beloved

    Look for me where we once became one, our hearts were shared that day
    Remember where we first met lips, in that place our memory will stay
    But look where I am and always will be, that where I have been from the start
    Look for me where I belong my one true love, I wait for you here in your heart

    David McDonald

  26. All my poetry was written as part of a management regime for Post Truamatic Stress Disorder, ultimately I produced a Trilogy of books from what was produced and much of it is raw and based in fact. For this reason I won't post those works here.

    I think the site is excellent I myself particularly like the work of Wilfred Owen.



    Anita Roberts
    My husband was on HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War - PTSD affects the whole family. Don't know how but we are still together. It's only the last couple of years that my husband is "normal"

    I watch these old men march
    bereted and badged
    as I was in years long gone.
    Though I understand
    and will honour their need.
    I will never join them.
    I need no marching or medals
    to do honour to comrades dead
    the metal would lie heavy
    upon my aging chest.
    I find no honour in gravestones
    the faces in my memory
    are still happy and young
    I would rather they were here
    growing old honoured by
    their children’s children.
    I need no military band
    I keep alive within my soul
    the sound my comrades' songs
    they are my morning reveille
    and my twilights taps
    What need I the waving flags
    of these patronising politician’s,
    and hindsight’s patriots.
    When these self same are
    cloaked in self interest barter and sell the peace
    hard bought by young lives. Whilst their casual neglect
    of our injured and our widows
    do such dishonour to our dead.
    What right have I of medals
    For I am here, aging still
    I hold in trust the memories of
    such youthful, selfless, sacrifice
    there smiles will haunt me ever.
    For as our young soldiers still do.
    I have, in scaring grief, carried home
    brave men upon their shields.

    Bill Mitton

    "From the old World War One sepia photos, right up to the photos of the fresh faced youth we see see in the paper. why does this slaughter continue why can't we LEARN!"

  29. The Soldier Boy.

    I knew a simple soldier boy,
    Who looked on life
    With careless joy,
    Where now has those
    Careless days so full
    Of laughter gone?
    Gone to war,
    Gone to be a hero,
    Now he is covered in mud,
    Covered in lice, cowed and glum,
    And suffering from a lack of rum,
    Then one day this woeful lad
    Took his gun and never looked back.
    The letter to his parents read;
    "Killed in action."
    Another soldier dead.

    Penny Kelly

  30. Like Alice

    This is my warren, my labyrinth.
    Its odour unmistakable,
    its light undependable and muted, reliant
    upon the wax and animal fat allotted, when I
    hear the call “Overhead”, this is my bolt hole,
    my entrance to another world,
    like Alice.

    This is my sanctuary, my asylum.
    Its lure unshakable,
    its home, unimaginable to many, but for us few
    who see beyond the splintered struts of timber
    and the daily demonstrations above, here we
    wonder “what is happening up there?”
    like Alice.

    This is my saloon, my old Angel Inn,
    Its liquor undrinkable,
    its taste unbearable, yet dream we may to savour
    the warmth of milk and honey whilst introducing
    our bodies to a new form of induced oblivion,
    as long as it says, “Drink Me” on the label,
    like Alice.

    This is my welcome, my, “So glad you came!”
    Its timing impractical,
    its guests indistinguishable, khaki clad and
    annealed with mud and mucous, here then we sit and drink insipid tea from tins of bully beef, talking moderately of our insanity and madness,
    like Alice.

    This is my ordeal before King and Queen,
    Its decisions unclear,
    Its outcome unresolved, if those who accuse are faultless, and those who defend are blameless,
    then surely there can be no right or wrong,
    yet still our cries cannot be conceived,
    like Alice.

    This is my fairytale, my wonderland,
    Its storyline unreadable,
    Its ending undisclosed, for when looking from
    these eyes that have captured a thousand last
    glimpses of recognition, I fear I have fallen into a world so surreal, that Lewis Carroll wrote the script,
    like Alice.

    When The Poppies Cease To Whisper.

    ……….what do I need to bring?
    “Just come as you are, come on, come on” was the call.

    Come as I am, you say!
    To make up the numbers aboard another endless excursion?
    After being conscripted to endure one outing,
    I have no heart or smile for a new bon voyage.

    “You have no heart or smile for anything any more”, was the reply.

    Is this truly what you and others think?
    Is this what I have become,
    A person so sober and grey that I have lost my appetite for the playfulness of life?

    Perhaps I have forgotten how good it tastes,
    Perhaps I am anorexic.

    Perhaps you are right,
    Perhaps this is as I choose,
    Perhaps I am tarnished,
    Perhaps I shall never forget.

    Perhaps the poppies will cease to whisper.

    Simon Bridges.

  31. You have an awesome site here, with lots of great content - just fantastic poetry - really deep and thought-provoking. Keep up the good work.


    Whose land is this that stinks of death,
    Whose fetid breath fills shallow graves,
    This hellish place, this heart of pain,
    Where bitter gales are blowing.

    Whose sons are these who died in fear,
    Forever here, these frozen ghosts,
    Above the sky, below the crags,
    Beneath the sea’s wild foaming.

    Whose flag is this which flew so proud,
    Whose funeral shroud will wrap their bones,
    That tattered rag, which finds them here,
    At sunrise and the gloaming.

    Whose cause was this that seemed so just,
    That if needs must then lives must end,
    Whose blood-stained hands, have laid them low,
    And hurt us with their going.

    Whose souls are these that yet survive,
    Who watch, alive, with dead-mens’ eyes,
    These shadow shapes, these hollow wraiths,
    With sorrow over-flowing.

    Whose war was this that haunts us still,
    Whose butcher’s-bill was such a price,
    What fools are men, to come to this,
    Beyond the south-wind’s moaning.

    Andy Robertson

    (for ‘Chico’, Bosnia, 1993)

    Remember me when autumn falls, and naked boughs stand tall, like guards,
    While raindrops rust the metal shards that stain the earth blood-red.

    Remember too when winter’s frost, sparkles in the cannon’s mouth,
    And cavalcades of birds fly south to mourn their absent dead.

    Remember please, when spring returns, when fields and forests rise, reborn,
    And scatterings of death are shorn from each new verdant bed.

    But most of all, in summertime, when love and life come here again,
    When other children laugh - just then - remember me.

    Andy Robertson

    (Living with PTSD)

    I was once your rock, your shield, your home,
    But now I’m broken, fragile and unknown,
    An empty vessel, left behind when something else moved on,
    A silhouette of what once was, but now is gone,
    Like driftwood, I am floating on the tide,
    And this pain that burns inside won’t die, till I do.

    Andy Robertson

  35. To battle they go

    Through the stillness of the morning air
    Comes the call they must prepare.
    For when they hear the whistle blow
    They will advance to meet their foe.

    With one foot on the ladder wracked with fear
    Some of the men will shed a tear.
    Looking around at their friends
    Each of them wishing this carnage would end.

    Down the line the whistle it blows
    The fear inside each one of them grows.
    Who will survive? No one can tell
    But it’s up the ladder and forwards to hell.

    So when a bird sings high in a tree
    Recall the sacrifice so we might be free.
    When you stand there this November
    Take a few minutes and just remember.

    by Andrew Bairnsfather
    Written on 5/11/09

  36. On The Road From Nam Dinh

    i.m. Endre Ernö Friedmann (1913 – 1954)

    They’re so alike in age they could be brothers,
    but what draws me into the photograph
    isn’t only the body in the dirt
    at the side of the track, a young man’s,
    half-naked, barefoot, arms tied out of sight
    behind him, one side of his skull a mess
    of pulp and blood, a battlefield execution
    if there ever was one, or the soldier
    wearing baggy fatigues and dark glasses,
    pistol and grenades hung from his belt,
    a sub-machine gun slung across his chest,
    who’s staring down at the corpse and seems
    to be smiling, as if the danger’s over
    and he feels safe enough to drop his guard.

    It’s what’s set to happen in the background,
    beyond where the road’s being swept
    for mines and a platoon’s wading thigh-deep
    through an undulating sea of grass
    as harmless as the day is long. The moment’s
    crystal clear: men walking and talking
    together, side by side, weapons shouldered,
    chinstraps loose, body language relaxed,
    the grinding discipline of fear stood down.
    Only the photographer’s still hankering
    after action, the one shot he hasn’t taken yet.
    He moves, a better angle, loads new film,
    changes f/stop, shutter speed, checks the sun,
    takes the step there are no words to describe.

    A boot treads down soft earth
    pressure plate
    anti-personnel mine.

  37. Veneer

    No matter what the song
    I know I don’t belong
    In this world of make belief and veneer
    I want to be out there
    where life is all a dare
    and sand and dust and noise is all I hear

    It’s here I feel in pain
    With nothing much to gain
    My senses dulled beyond my comprehension
    There is another place
    Where life is all a race
    And boredom never, ever, gets a mention

    I know it’s very bad
    And no-one will be glad
    But my nerves are so grossly disaffected
    If you really care
    Then let me go out there
    Where life and love is never misdirected

    So, my friend you see
    Just what it means to me
    I know you’ll never really comprehend
    No matter what you say
    It has to be this way
    There’s only one way this can ever end

    To lay down on a bed
    Till they say I am dead
    That way for me is really quite contrarian
    I want to stand aloft
    My boots in sand so soft
    And spit my final force at a Barbarian

    I really will not cry
    When time it is to die
    I hope I will stay facing to the enemy
    But I will think of you
    As I am almost through
    And my eyes are closing with finality

  38. Dreams of Darkness
    Libya 2011

    The darkness awaits me
    I know it so well
    Will it be Heaven?
    Or will it be Hell?

    But Darkness is simply
    The absence of light
    It cannot be wrong,
    But it cannot be right

    And will you now tell me,
    The truth must be starkness
    Is light only simply
    The absence of Darkness?

    You never saw Darkness
    That deserts can spawn
    Those blobs on the earth
    As night becomes dawn

    And rivers of darkness
    That bubble and flow
    Between living and
    Death as far as I know

    Can I look away forward
    To dashboard or hood?
    I know that I can’t
    But so wish that I could

    The dark liquid dances,
    As if by a storm
    Blobs taking from Hades
    Their shapes and their form

    I have to slow down
    To hear and to see
    What murmurings I know
    Are accusing of me

    White faces of sadness
    Pressed to windows in line
    From where is this madness?
    Those dark blobs are mine
    So Hell has no blame
    For what we befall
    And heaven looks on
    With disdain at us all

    They eat away clothing
    To get at their meal
    Their dark coats are shining
    I can’t move, I can’t feel

    Their hunger is conquered
    Just bones will remain
    Where once stood a man
    All that’s left is a stain

    We pass, and their heads turn
    From that terrible sight
    Do they wish to salute us?
    Well that they might

    So what have we done here?
    Our side was the winner
    We came to claim Liberty
    Not give black rats a dinner

  39. The Long Road Past Zintan
    Libya 2011

    and so my dear friend, another day's dawn
    I look at the desert, feeling forlorn
    I pack up my bedroll, climb onto my seat
    wave to the others, let’s go!! we've a deadline to beat
    look down at your name and dream of the day
    back there in Finland when I'll be able to say
    to my friend in the North, to your face, to your soul
    that I've missed you so much that it hurts as I told

    we have to go farther than we have until thus
    but our foes are so near and they make such a fuss!!!
    for they know we are coming to bid them farewell,
    to this world which they darken and turn into hell,
    G’s cannons are deafening, an incredible sound
    so we push down the pedals, to his lair we are bound
    they can't shoot for toffee, which is all well and good
    the rockets keep coming, they fall where we stood!
    elsewhere life is normal, who knows of our plight
    childs laughter in windows, not heard of this fight
    the screen tells them little, tween sandwich and tea
    be kind to your neighbour, how else could it be?
    and Angels take pity from up there on high
    raining malice aforethought down from the sky
    on dark demons who send all laughter awry
    but I know we shall get there, to hell with the fright
    to hell with the horror, to hell with the blight
    and we'll open our cargo and shake with our glee!!
    all dark demons will vanish!!
    what a day that will be!!
    the world is against us, but I know who is right
    but my tears fall like raindrops on a roof in the night
    when I think of the chances that maybe I might
    never see you again, feel your breath, touch your lips, hold you tight

    It's not death that's the problem, but things one would miss
    broke apart in the desert, last moments of bliss
    not going to happen, they're just not that good!
    so continue to stare from these eyes as I should
    and fly towards Finland on some sunny day
    and I shall find joy in your arms, I should say!

  40. I'm Coming Home

    As I wave goodbye and walk away the kisses and cuddles from my loved ones still fresh in my mind I set my sights on what will be my new daily grind. To Afghanistan I flew to fight for my country, I’m with my brothers, never alone, a promise made to my family. I’m coming home.

    Day in day out protecting the base, going on patrol our sole aim, avoiding deaths ugly face. Living in conditions that are a right state whilst civvies whinge with hate “you joined up so why do you moan”? I don’t care but if they think they can do better they are welcome to take my place, if they dare. I only know. I’m coming home.

    Taking fire, it’s all go now need to get across this streambed then, “ pow”, feels like I’ve been punched like a boxer in the final round. All I can hear now is “man down, man down” will this be my last sound? I can see the medics and my mates working on me till I breathe my last as I’m carried from the field under the rotors hurricane blast, it’s finally got through my dome……. I’m coming home.

    Now they are all gathered round, family crying, mates recalling the best of times, the only sound, I’m carried in my union flag draped coffin on my final journey and laid in the ground, there’s no more crying no more sound….. I’m home.


    Copyright © 2013 Tom Murray All Rights Reserved


  41. DEAR MUM

    Hi mum made back safe to sunny Afghan, R&R was great, just getting my kit together no need to be sad, oh can you say hi to dad.

    Hi mum just waiting to go up to the Forward Operating Base cant wait to finally get out of this place
    Hi mum got your parcel today shared the sweets with the guys loved the photos, brought a tear to my eyes.

    Hi mum just got woke up again shots fired by the Taliban spent most of the day stood too with my mate wee Dan

    Hi mum its me the pest just back from a long patrol just thought I would drop you a wee message before I head for a rest

    Hi mum I’m feeling down and sad one of the boys was killed today he will be missed he was a great lad.
    Hi mum off out on a big patrol so will be out of contact for a few days don’t worry its an easy one the sergeant says

    Dear mum this is the medic i was there and attended your son i remember it well we got him into the base hospital just after seven, his last words to me were tell mum and dad not to feel sad I will see them again in heaven.


    Copyright © 2013 Tom Murray All Rights Reserved

  42. The Blue Wheelbarrow
    For the angel in the pink dress.

    On a dry and dusty day I saw a blue wheelbarrow, with long handles made of dark wood.

    The wheel is struggling as it carries its burden, but it does the job as it should.

    The man pushing appears to be crying, his eyes all puffy and red. It’s time to move on, but I wait, I wait for him to reach me instead. The wheelbarrow has a dark green cover, such a sickly, metallic sweet smell underneath, with a heavy lump in my throat, “don’t lift the cover!” but regardless, I pull it over to see.

    The first thing to strike me, such a tiny hand, tiny fingers all bent into a fist. Less than an inch below it, in my big gloved hand, the smallest most delicate wrist. Her face is held together by bright orange thread, her eyes seem to be searching the stars. Her crown should still be on there, on that beautiful head, where she lays, crumpled up inside her Dads cart.

    I put back the cover, swallow hard and just stand there, my head, Jesus Christ I can’t stop, I can't think. My pounding heart tearing itself apart inside my aching chest, at this beautiful little angel in pink.

    Her father, his eyes screaming toward me sobs gently, silent rage and deafening shock. Why can’t I bring myself to look into this man’s eyes, oh Lord, grant me some breath that I can talk. To say sorry, to ask why, to just speak in his tongue, to show him that right then, I really do care. I realise that I would never find those words, I’ve never had such tragedy to compare.

    I slowly walked away from the blue wheelbarrow, thinking that I could leave it behind. Now every night as my daughter hugs me, that wheelbarrow crashes into my mind. Whenever she cries my stomach goes tight, when she laughs all those dark clouds disappear. Every time that she says me she loves me, I know that I have nothing to fear, but yet so much.

    The wheelbarrow has changed me forever, drank me to illness, and brought my whole life right to the edge. I couldn’t switch off from that sweet sickly smell, and I couldn’t relate any of this to my friends.
    I will never forget, such a small wrist in my hand, such beautiful soft lips kissing the sky. Such a pretty pink little dress, stained deep red with blood, those clear and lifeless brown eyes.

    I wish that I had asked for her name, something to call that three year old victim of war, so small and so beautiful with those innocent eyes, my body still aches so that I couldn't want this any more.

    If I could tell the world of my demons, in one image to make others understand. I’d draw that blue wheelbarrow with the green cover ripped off, and that soft fragile wrist in my hand. I looked into the wheelbarrow as a young father and my comfort, is that forever I will know. No matter how often the wheelbarrow returns, I have my daughter, and my own angel in pink to hold.

    James T Clark
    Former soldier of Household Cavalry Regiment/ Royal Regiment of Scotland


    During the First World War 1914-18, the British raised many ‘Friends Brigades’ from cities and towns. The brigades were made-up of men, friends from childhood or who had worked together. The recruiting sergeants promised they would be home by Christmas.

    Our parents called us the jolly boys
    Friends, singing songs of childhood
    Playing and running through golden cornfields.
    We were country boys, bright stars of promise
    Little Jimmy, Fred, Alfred and me.

    We left school to work on farms
    Had girlfriends, planned marriage and babies
    Then came our country’s call to arms
    And full of pride we answered
    Four best mates for king and country.

    Out in France and on the Somme
    We marched heads high to the front
    Thinking ourselves invincible
    Living in trenches ankle deep in mud
    Infested with lice and scampering rats.

    The order from the general came
    For the Brigade to go over the top
    And in terror we stood bayonets fixed
    Waiting for our officer’s whistle blast
    Moist of eye we shook hands saying goodbye.

    Whistles blew up and down the line
    As we clambered up ladders into hell
    There was chatter of German machineguns
    Screams of wounded and dying
    The brigade cut down like new mown hay.

    The last post bugle call shivered the soul
    And in neat rows they lie side by side
    Marked by thousands of white crosses
    Brothers in arms of the Friends Brigade
    And with them, Little Jimmy, Fred, Alfred and me.

    Colin Ian Jeffery


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