I was involved in the Pages of the Sea workshops and was inspired to write something myself. This is it.
These are of course not memories for most;
Are postcards from that other country- The Past.
The Silence, the medalled men, the Last Post,
The lists of names, the Unknown Soldiers, are dust
That runs through our fingers leaving nought
But a smear on our palms, an idle boast
That we too have done our duty, fought
Our battles kindlier than these ghosts.
We know now what was wrong with all that- the Lies,
White Feathers, fools who sent our fathers over the top
Into the killing-fields, the no-man’s land, into skies
Of chlorine gas, over ground whose only crop
Was body parts and blood, nothing to feed
Lands fit for heroes, men grown too wise
For work and wages, men whose deeds
Could not be spoken of, or seen by unseeing eyes.
Of course you wonder sometimes if there’s a point
In learning history, reading the poets-
One way or another the time is out of joint –
Our tongues can find no new words, only quotes.
So why should we remember? And if we do
How choose among the dead, the grieved,
The nurses, the spies, the conchies, the few
Innocents who knew nothing of the graves?
Can the world ever be free of war?
If we pay the right attention can we make it?
Remember so intently what went wrong before
That we never never repeat the same mistakes?
Time will tell and history will judge.
More Old Lies, I think. If there be any judges
Who understand time and history and judgement
I ain’t heard of them- but who am I to judge?
It’s the same time, the past, as the future and the present;
The same but different;
Just like our sight of it –
The same, but always shifting.
I read down
the list of names
Expecting to find my own
No, it isn’t there
No White A
No-one whose face to see or hand to shake