‘I Remember’ by Pete Brammer

I remember what they said,
At the outbreak of the war,
‘It will be all over come Christmas’
Yet I can recall with such horror,
How our lads were slaughtered,
Thousands and thousands, en mass.

I remember signing on, with workmates,
All eager to do our bit.
“Your country needs you.” old Kitchener said.
I remember we proudly marched through town,
People cheered, waving Union flags,
For they could not envisage, most would end up dead.

I remember the years in sludgy trenches,
As we struggled, to keep our sanity,
Suffering trench foot, fleas and mites,
Waiting for the shout, “Over the top.”
With the accompanying shrilled whistles,
Instantly obeying, we set off to fight.

I remember too, mustard gas clouds,
Drifting across ‘No Man’s Land’
Donning the life saving gas masks,
As shells whistled over our heads,
All wondering where they would land,
To be followed, by deafening blasts.

I remember the mud, changing colour,
As it clung to out boots and putties,
A nerve tingling scarlet red,
Skin and bone flying everywhere,
With life blood from innocent lads,
Some wounded, but most of them dead.

I remember thinking, about my wife,
Upset, to be missing my child,
You see, I had walked away from the conflict,
Now I stand before the firing squad,
Their rifles, pointing at my heart,

Please God, forgive me…

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MAKE IT STOP! by Cynthia Smith

This one in response to our trigger ‘Stop’

MAKE IT STOP!

If I hide here will it stop:

The crunch of the shells,

The screams of the dying?

Will they forget about me

So I won’t have to go over the top?

 

The fields at home now are in full crop.

Shall I see them again,

Kiss Mother and Dad,

Hold little Elsie’s hand?

Or will my bones be left here to rot?

 

They felt such pride to see me atop

The bus, wearing smart khaki.

Thank God they can’t see this hell,

As so many men are mown down.

But where is God? Please make it stop!

Cynthia Smith

A private return from war by Antony Burrows

A private return from war

by Antony Burrows

 

In the stillness of bonfire breezes

Dutifully winding lanes lined,

And avenues ranked ,over tidy doorsteps, 

Down cobblestone washed streets,

Through willow weeping gates and ginnels…I pass by.

 

                                           

I pass by, in laurel, a green boned yeoman, who drilled

And scattered once, in dominion warrior lands, sown

Latent seed ,reaped proud stalks in evening light,

Then cut down in raw war dark dawn…I wave bye.

 

I wave bye, reflective in autumn pastels, paused,

Hand delivered opened to find, tears captured as fallen leaves,

And destined to be, shuttered off in sepia memories,

Parlour drawn, mantle resting piece…I look by.

 

I look by, finding lovers, brothers, mothers,

Received with stoic black poppy pride,

Prayed silence, a crown of Portland stone,

Stories of valour, pals together, alone…I stand by.

 

I stand by, and you may say, did I not know,

As does the oak, young sapling ?,

Felled in the warmth of new life,

No acorns rising, nestling under moss,

Only the cold pastures of death and loss,

And I ask why ?.  

 

Antony Burrows