War poems

1. Hanging on

It’s easy to live like this:
Nobody cares,
What you think,
What you say,
No matter, really.
The monarchy, it’s grey and sleepy,
An old hound stretched out
In front of the dying fire,
Doesn’t bother to shoo the flies off.
Be hearty, be jolly.
Inexorable, this drifting into the past.

2. Barrel-Maker

My father would say:
Something’s got to give.
The union for the workers,
Strikes so he’d play with me
On a Saturday afternoon.

My mother replied:
Mouths to feed,
Work to be done.
You join the marchers,
You lose your job.

Protesting is for those who can afford it.
So I thought I could join the march.
Would the Emperor be there, too?
We only had a picture of the Virgin Mary but
Our neighbours had his picture in their parlour.

3. Just anything to eat

No food, no food,
So hungry, mother.
I know, I know
I’m sorry dear.

Let’s travel down the road
Which road, which road
It’s crumbling, crumbling
Into no man’s land.

What’s no man’s land
What is it father
Where does it lead
This crumbling street

No street, no road
It doesn’t lead to any man
To anyone with any food,
With any work, not anything.

Just anything would do,
I know, just any work,
Just anything to eat,
Just any man, on any street.

On any road
That leads to anything
That leads to any land
Where I can eat.

4. At any price

He came and gave us work,
He came and we had food.
He came, he fixed the roads,
He cleaned the town,
Cleaned out the house next door.

Don’t ask me where they’ve gone,
They’ve gone and I have work,
I’ve work and bring home food.
Don’t think, don’t ask,
Don’t say a word.

5. At the station

The train is not on time.
There is no time
For those who have to leave.

They’ve stopped their clocks.
They’ve stopped their lives.
They never stopped to say goodbye.

Why are your people leaving?
Why would you leave this place?
The only answer is a bitter, stony face.

Gunnysacks so heavy,
Leather cases too.
Let me help you, Madam,
Help you bear the load.

Don’t forget the dolly,
Little girl in tears,
Wave God speed and
Watch the small face disappear.

Where is my friend going?
Why can’t I go too?
I could take the next train,
Catch up with her soon.

6. On the doorstep

I said Goodbye.
My mother cried and said
My dear, don’t go.
I said I know.
I know, she said,
You have to go.

I’ll think of you,
I’ll write, I said.
Take care, said she
Stay well, come back to me.
I turned, and left,
And left her standing there.

Our neighbour came,
Our neighbour said
Don’t cry, my dear, don’t cry.
I cry, I cry, my mother said,
For I may lose this child.
At least you’re spared this sad farewell.

I may be spared the tears,
The good old soul replied.
But ne’er to welcome back
Have I a child,
To hold, embrace,
Restored to me, restored to life.

7. The Weather

The weather is a fascinating thing.
I remember once I saw lightning
So distant I didn’t hear the thunder yet.
The sky was blazing bright,
With silvery sparks shining on the horizon.

The fiery dots came closer,
I would see them clearly
In a moment, they’d be here.
Then lightning again,
And, finally, the thunder.

It even shook the ground,
But Princie, wiry grey pointer,
Didn’t think this particularly funny.
Then I heard the droning too,
Like the wind was crying.

Just then, the miracle occurred.
From high above, out of the sky,
Came Christmas trees, candles alight,
Burning, glowing, glittering,
Silently gliding towards Earth.

There seemed to be a tune
That someone whistled,
Right cheerful, but monotonous,
And shrill, and loud, and coming
Down, down straight at us.

8. Looking at Desolation

War is gone.
The bitter beast has turned its back
But left its tracks all over me.
My legs criss-crossed with scars,
Entangled in the fields gone wild.
My shoulders bent from what I’ve seen,
Head torn by all I did or did not do.

The house next door a burned out shell,
The puppy’s bark gone silent like its owners.
Numb fingers pulling from its frame
The last piece of the window pane.
My face reflected, no wrinkles tell how old I feel
When meeting Mother’s vacant smile:
I told her yesterday he wasn’t coming back.

9. Not quite

It feels like yesterday.
It’s been a while –
Not quite.

Still fighting battles.
The war is over –
Not quite.

My brother is still 21.
I have survived –
Not quite.

My hunger is stilled.
I never had enough –
Not quite.

Have you forgotten?
Well, not quite yet.
Your old self again?
Surely never that.

© jsmorgane (Jan 10)

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 12:19 am  Comments (5)  
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