THE FAKE MASK by Pete Brammer
I have turned my back on the ones I love,
Carefully closing the garden gate,
Tramping my way with a tear in the eye,
To where, my future awaits.
I turn and wave, then let my arm fall,
As family wave back, from beyond the wall.
In uniform proud, I head for the front,
To the battle that has to be won,
But will I join the ones who will die?
Those fathers, uncles and sons,
‘Pray God I be spared’ is all that I ask,
Since leaving my home, I have dropped the fake mask.
A mask that said, ‘I am not afraid’
For behind it lay fear, and great dread,
I have witnessed friends and comrades, so many,
Seriously wounded and dead,
So reverently, their remains, were duly sent back,
I don’t want to be a name, on a memorial plaque.
ANOTHER STRONG LAD TO WORK THE MINE
One cold and wet November morn,
In a drab pit village a boy was born,
The midwife said. “He looks just fine,
Another strong lad to work the mine”.
Leaving school at twelve years old,
When his pa was killed by a fall of coal,
He became a man at an early age,
But his belly went cold as he rode the cage.
He finished his shift with a body so sore,
So utterly tired from starting at four,
Falling to sleep at the table that night,
He was carried to bed the poor little mite.
As time went by he progressed to the face,
Along side men slowing down in the race,
Their faces drawn and aged before time,
Complexions so sallow and pitted with grime.
No son of his he did vow and declare,
Would work in the mine devoid of fresh air,
All day in water so putrid and smelly,
And crawling along like a snake on its belly.
The years left their mark as he reached middle age,
His union had fought for a good living wage,
All of his life he’d given of his best,
Now he was finished with dust on his chest.
Just as a man comes into his prime,
He was bent double and old before time,
Unable to walk far without fighting for breath,
Soon he’d have peace as he welcomed his death.
Reflecting on life he’d give but a sigh,
The nice things in life had all passed him by,
He came into the world against his will,
And was leaving disappointed.