Bournemouth WW1 Commemoration poems

Bournemouth First World War Centenary Commemoration poems

Flanders-poppies-for commercial use

 

As part of the Bournemouth First World War commemorations, you are invited to write your own poems on the theme of War and Peace.
There are two categories: 1) poems specifically about the First World War,  2) poems on war and peace in general, including other wars, current wars, protest poems etc.
When you’ve got your poem ready, pop it into the comment box below, click ‘post comment’, and I’ll arrange for it to be posted. Happy writing!

36 Comments

  1. Jenny

    February 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Silent Voices

    Don’t ask my child, I will not tell
    about the four years spent in hell.
    I cannot voice the words to share
    of all that we encountered there,
    and surely you should never know
    the price we paid to vanquish foe.
    All Mother’s sons, the same as we,
    yet fodder for our Victory!

    So many words already said
    about the armies of the dead.
    So many pictures of young faces
    left to lie in unknown places.
    If I’m to honour their defiance
    I’ll keep faith with them in silence.
    Not speak the lie ‘For Freedoms Cause’,
    And myth of ‘War to End All Wars’!

    Don’t ask my child, I will not tell
    of my descent into this hell.
    Of reasons why you now will find
    me locked away, of shattered mind.
    A place for keeping out of sight
    we men who lost the mental fight,
    who now bring only fear and shame
    to those who follow in our name.

    Who wants to hear about the mad?
    Why can we not forget? Be glad
    we lived, unlike the thousands more
    that gave their lives on foreign shore.
    There’s no way out for the insane,
    for forty tortured years remain.
    Not speak the lie ‘For Freedoms Cause’
    And myth of ‘War to End All Wars!’

    Dedicated to my Grandfathers
    Private Harry H. Troke – Veteran of India Campaign, Boer War & WW1
    Private Joseph Patrick Hartley – Resident of Prestwich Asylum 1920 – 1962

    © Jenny Young 2014

  2. Paul

    February 20, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Flanders Town

    Wet night in Flanders town;
    light snipes through hotel shutters
    striking stained rims of plastic cups,
    spent shrapnel in fetid gutter.

    Shivering pigeon shelters
    beneath cape of sculpted warrior,
    captured in bronze,
    frozen forever young.

    Paul Canon Harris
    Boscombe, February 2014

  3. Janet

    February 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Mud and Blood

    Digging in, rats run in mud and blood
    Tired of the cracking sound
    Shouts, screams and moans
    Bodies lay, parts shot off
    Barely recognisable now as friendships rot
    Remembered by your cannon fodder name and number
    A mother’s son
    Once walked the streets of home
    In a foreign field
    Where nothing bears resemblance

    Digging in done,
    My moment to reflect
    Drift back,
    Whilst shots ring out above my head
    My purpose?
    Lost in the mud and the blood
    I write my few words home
    My last farewell,
    If God’s will chooses me
    Mother!
    What words could express my last?
    Love of my land, my King, my country,
    My Mother I give you my all

    That which brought me here
    Where Devils lurk behind each line
    Taunting to provoke an enemy
    Can I kill you as you would me?
    Frightened eyes all around
    Bayonets fixed we charge
    Comrades fall in mud and blood
    Many shouts and screams and moans
    Please God take me home

    White stones inscribed my number, my name
    A foreign field where I still lay
    My life blood mixed with the mud
    Where the poppies grow
    100 years of generations
    Lost children that will never be
    I never knew
    Will you mourn for me as I mourn for you?
    Proud as my mother of me as her tears flowed
    My love of my land, my King, My country
    Freedom, I leave to you

    Janet S. Rogers

  4. Robert

    February 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    A Glosse of Silence

    Our fine men, our brave, strong, young men:
    Our glowing red, shouting, brawny men.
    Slowly, inch by inch, they have gone down into it,
    Into its darkness, its thickness, its silence.
    (From ‘The Song of the Mud’ by Mary Borden)

    They hide in the sanity of the silence
    That the insanity they witness and
    Are conscripted into forbids them;
    Our fine men, our brave, strong, young men.

    They shun the white feathers on offer from
    Others who will never know the assault on
    The senses of a night coloured by explosive fire light;
    Our glowing red, shouting, brawny men.

    Men of breeding echo the stutter and stammer
    Of the chatter of the Maxim and Lewis.
    For the ranks it is the frozen scream in the larynx.
    Slowly, inch by inch, they have gone down into it.

    Withdrawing from words which can’t describe
    That which is indescribable, from that which
    They are powerless to protest or walk away, they sink
    Into its darkness, its thickness, its silence.

    ©Robert Hill 2014

  5. Sue

    February 21, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    The Untold Hero

    The red of the sunset like a cloak filling the sky
    will it be the last time that I will see the colours up high?
    They ask me what has been done, but in silence I reply.
    Will you remember me when I say my hasty goodbyes
    as you stare at my muddy grave of darkness and stench.
    Will you remember me in my loyalty as I ran amongst the trench?
    so I could save your country against the enemy line.
    I had my own part to play my master to serve,
    amongst the soldiers in their bravery hiding their cries.
    No language needed in the whispers of the night,
    as I sniffed the air and looked into your eyes,
    to warn you that the enemy was very near,
    while hidden away in muddy trenches knee deep.
    Waiting to cross over to no-mans land in the firing line.
    Trusting in the signal from the message I silently cried,
    it was safe and with gods will not to fail and hero be born.
    I was proud to stand tall beside you lest you fall,
    and bring you to safety as you were who I served.
    Hiding amongst the bracken and swamp to send a message,
    for reinforcements as danger was irrelevant,
    Listening to your cries in the desperate silence of your eyes,
    you gave me my own part to play in the battle of war,
    from an orphan to a family and not left in a pen.
    Remember me when the night falls to darkness as well as brave men,
    if I do not see the red sky of the morning once again
    please remember me, your four legged soldier friend.

    ‘Many men and women lost their lives for us to have our freedom but also our four legged friends were a great help after training with the duties that they performed to help the soldiers by risking their lives sniffing out enemies, delivering notes and carrying equipment for our brave soldiers. Many of them were trained from dogs homes or they were a family pet dog. They died for our country as well, along with our heroes.’

    Sue Bennetton

  6. Annie

    February 21, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Mary’s Boy

    Mary’s Bonnie Boy has gone to fight a war
    Dressed up in Soldiers garb he’s gone from her door
    He’s scared and brave inside his chest
    He’s fighting for those he loves best
    Yes Mary’s Bonnie Boy has left and gone to war

    Mary’s weary war worn boy writes home
    What to tell of how it is, send a card instead
    In Embroidered lace a loving message hid
    That tells her how he’s missing her
    Yes Mary’s weary war torn Boy is fighting for all this.

    Mary’s waiting at the gate for Teddy to come home
    Father’s freedom gift standing by her side
    He’s down the pub blotting out, what he saw
    Angry at the part of him given to war
    Yes Mary’s waiting at the gate for Teddy to come home.

    Dedicated to my Grandparents
    Edward Christopher – Royal Hampshire Regiment WWI and his wife Mary.

    Annie Christopher

  7. Jenny

    March 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    The Madness That Is

    ‘Gas Lads! Gas Lads!
    Quick now grab a mask!
    Can’t breathe; Foul air; Can’t breathe!
    Gasping!
    Heaving!
    Drowning!
    Gas Lads, Gas!’
    ‘No Joe – Steam Joe
    Time to take your bath’.

    ‘Guns Lads! Guns Lads!
    Quick now hit the trench!
    Full blast; Body rain; Full blast!
    Booming!
    Roaring!
    Deafening!
    Guns Lads, Guns!’
    ‘No Joe – Doors Joe
    Security for your rest’.

    ‘Rats Lads! Rats Lads!
    Quick now here they come!
    Kill them; Bright eyes; Kill them!
    Squealing!
    Crawling!
    Gorging!
    Rats Lads, Rats!’
    ‘No Joe – Shadows Joe
    Scuttling across the floor’.

    ‘Screams Lads! Screams Lads!
    Quick now – no man’s land!
    Find him; Our Jim; Find him!
    Calling
    Praying
    Dying
    Screams Lads, Screams
    Bring my brother home’
    ‘No Joe – Sleep Joe
    Nightmare’s battle done’.

    ‘Here Nurse, Here Nurse!
    Quick now – lend a hand’
    Wrist strap; mouth gag; brain shock
    Arching
    Flailing
    Trembling
    ‘Here Nurse, Here!’
    ‘Just Joe – Mad Joe
    Fights his war again!’

    © Jenny Young 2014

  8. Patricia

    March 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

    War

    Come my children one and all
    Welcome to this adult world
    Leave your playthings answer the call
    Arm yourselves with a real sword
    For there’s a battle to be won
    Some slaying yet to do
    Just help yourselves to a real gun
    Come you and you and you

    There’s no object to this silly game
    The rules are he who wins dares
    You don’t even have to give your name
    The enemy neither knows nor cares
    And at the end of the day
    When the deed is done
    Then you can have your say
    And when the battle has been won
    You can put aside your toys
    And let your hearts be sore
    For all those other lovely boys
    That you will see no more.

    By Patricia Taylor

    (Published by Arrival Press in 1992)

  9. Pamela

    March 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    A Life Unfulfilled

    I dreamed I had a son.
    Our cold fingers entwined as we left our footprints behind us in the sand.
    Cockleshells rattled in his blue tin bucket.
    I can hear them now, with the bullets and commotion all around.

    I dreamed I had a daughter.
    We lay on our backs in the grass, smiling in the sun.
    She had a daisy chain around her fragile wrist.
    I can smell the meadow now, the mist and the mud.

    I dreamed I had a wife.
    We lay together, my head on her round belly.
    Her letters would have made it all endurable.
    Her words of encouragement fill my mind now, all too late.

    I dreamed of King and Country.
    I was proud to wear the uniform, to stand with my brothers.
    A vermilion stain spreads carelessly across my heart
    I can see my brothers now, lying face down alongside me

    I dreamed I would return to my son, my daughter, my wife and my country
    But it was a just a dream

    Pamela Richardson

  10. A poem on a contemporary theme of war and peace.

    Song from The West Country

    I heard from ‘The Beeb’ that you’re packing a pistol to serve overseas
    And let me first say that “I love what you’ve done with Iraq”
    But brother why smother your soul with this ragtime disease
    That trusses you up as a soldier?

    I’d rather we prowled getting shitfaced and pissed though the harbours and towns
    And live out the days a disgrace to detergent and Dad.
    What’s measured in deserts and letters from close-to-the-crown?
    It isn’t a man, it’s a soldier.

    There’s surplus of guys with no sister or sense of self-worth to supply
    – I have it on wisdom that that’s what the Scottish are for –
    I swear I’ll destroy every toy that entwisted our lives
    If you mark your civs for a soldier’s.

    Joshua Ward

  11. Ian

    March 25, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Silent Movies

    They huddle in grim groups
    amid the wreckage of a trench half filled with mud and slime
    but, as the camera pans its weary eye along the waste
    they smile and wave and raise a ragged cheer
    to show the folks back home the lads are well.
    They’re doing fine.
    But then, in muted groups
    and ones and twos
    the shattered bodies of the not so fortunate pass by.
    The ones who can, smoke cigarettes
    and grin concealing pain they feel they should not show,
    the others set their faces with a mask of stone,
    their blank expressions hiding all.

    I watch these films and wonder how it was
    they carried on amid the roar of guns,
    the filth and stench of death
    as if the madness that they daily faced was real life,
    and peace some monstrous lie created by diseased imaginations.
    Their national pride which turned its face from suffering
    and, welcoming, embraced the lunacy of war
    still fills me with dismay.

    I watch again as silently the men are killed
    like actors from some grotesque mime
    and feel a sadness fill my soul
    for what man’s done, is doing now and will doubtless do again.

    Ian Tovey

  12. Rob

    March 28, 2014 at 11:35 am

    The Telegram

    In the “the war to end all wars”
    Action was being seen,
    Across the width of the Western Front
    In March nineteen-sixteen…..

    The War Office received the news,
    After the first advance
    Against the enemy trenches
    In the north-east of France….

    The message was passed over to
    An office in Whitehall,
    Given to a desk-bound serviceman,
    A Corporal named Paul….

    Who, using the new telegraph –
    The way messages were sent –
    Dispatched it to a post-office
    In a small village in Kent….

    The post-mistress received it and
    Took the words from her machine,
    Pasted them onto a telegram
    So that they could be seen….

    She glanced then at that telegram,
    And what was written there;
    She knew who lived there very well,
    She shed a silent tear…..

    She called for her delivery-boy,
    He jumped quickly to his feet,
    And asked him, “Please deliver this
    To 12A, Gladstone Street”….

    He got onto his bicycle
    And, calling a brief “Yes”,
    Cycled quickly through the village
    To the correct address…

    The villagers they watched him go
    As he rode on his way;
    They knew what was in that telegram,
    They knew what it would say…

    But what, of course, they did not know,
    What not one of them knew,
    Which street that he was heading for
    And which house going to….

    They held their breath, those villagers,
    Tried not to show their fears,
    But wished, so hard it could be seen,
    The house would not be theirs….

    He stopped at 12A, Gladstone Street,
    He knocked upon the door,
    He handed in the telegram,
    He could do nothing more….

    Mr and Mrs Robinson
    Received the news with dread –
    Read the words out, “Killed in action” –
    Their only son was dead……

    And a war that seemed so far away,
    Not likely to come near,
    Was suddenly, and horribly,
    And tragically right there.

    ©Rob Bury March 2014

    The Silver Cigarette Case

    It’s a silver cigarette case
    That in my hand I hold,
    If only it could talk, I thought,
    What stories could be told…

    It belonged, my family tells me,
    To my Great-Uncle Tom
    Who was at the front at Paschendale,
    At Ypres and on the Somme….

    If it could tell me of that war,
    If memories could be stirred,
    What horrors might it then have seen,
    What awful sounds have heard…..

    The rattle of the rifle fire
    From North, South, East and West,
    The staccato of a Bren-Gun
    From its well-concealed nest….

    The deadly whine of cannon-shells,
    The severed limbs and blood,
    The terror of the shrapnel and
    The endless, endless mud….

    The screams of dying horses,
    The cries of dying men,
    The senseless slaughter as they swarmed
    “Over the top” again…..

    The clouds of yellow mustard-gas
    That poisoned every breath,
    That reaped its awful harvest of
    Coughing, spluttering death….

    The stink of human excrement,
    The ever-present stench,
    The smell of suppurating wounds
    In every ghastly trench….

    The clouds of flying, biting flies
    Beyond all human ken,
    The scuttle of a thousand rats
    As they gorge on fallen men….

    The whispering of a padre,
    The words he would employ
    Trying to bring some comfort to
    A bleeding, dying boy….

    Then there were those golden moments
    Of silence in the Spring,
    When the skylarks rose up from the ground
    To sing and sing and sing….

    And sometimes songs and laughter too,
    The horror put aside,
    Would break out from those Tommies who
    Could not mourn those who’d died….

    Very early every morning
    Reveille could be heard
    Above the constant boom of guns,
    It hearts and passions stirred;

    A clarion call to action
    In an ancient British way,
    It helped soldiers find the courage
    To face another day….

    Then, at last, on Armistice Day,
    That never-ending cheer,
    The laughs, the smiles, the sounds of joy
    From every soldier there….

    Peace had been finally declared,
    A cease-fire been arranged,
    Those who were left were left to face
    A world completely changed.

    ©Rob Bury March 2014

    Lest We Forget

    On market squares and village greens,
    On railway stations too,
    In graveyards and on city’s Streets,
    Can be seen our country through,

    In our great cathedral’s chapels,
    In our churches high and low
    In our little towns and boroughs,
    Just everywhere you go,

    In army barracks, naval docks,
    On great banks’ marble walls,
    In every Royal Air Force base
    And inside great town halls…..

    Will be found inscribed on copper,
    On steel and bronze and brass,
    On marble, slate and granite too,
    On Oak and ash and glass….

    The names of many thousand men
    (‘Though there are many more)
    Who made the final sacrifice
    Throughout the First World War….

    Our country rightly honours those
    Who gave their lives so we
    Could live our lives in happiness,
    So that we could be free….

    But in many little churches,
    In Dorset’s deepest west,
    Will be found memorials which to
    A different fact attest….

    They give thanks to Almighty God
    On a quite different tack,
    Not for those men who gave their lives
    But for those who came back….

    There is a salutary message here
    That we all need to heed
    When we look at those memorials
    And those endless name-lists read….

    Those listed there, they helped to make
    This land in which we dwell
    But those, not listed, who came back,
    They did their bit as well….

    The names of those who died are there
    For all the world to see,
    But of the ones that did come back
    There’ll be no memory….

    Both need to be recorded and,
    It is pertinent to say,
    Both need to be remembered on
    Every Remembrance Day.

    ©Rob Bury March 2014

  13. Bully Beef

    What was Bully Beef? What colour?
    Did you eat it hot or cold? Was it solid and lumpy?
    Sticky or runny? How big were the cans? How thin was the metal?

    How big were the rats? How sharp were their teeth?
    Were they really like bayonets when they gnawed and drilled
    and peeled back the loose tin to crawl inside?

    When the jackets were pierced, did it spurt out,
    flake out, ooze or blob out? Did the big rats suck it, lick it,
    slurp it, nibble, gobble, gulp? Did they slice their snouts on the jagged steel?

    Once inside did they chew out a trench? How did they see?
    Did it get in their eyes? Blind them? How sharp were the teeth?
    How long was it before they knew they couldn’t get out?

  14. Telegram From the Queen

    When they came, they came in ones and twos
    with their cameras and notepads, asking
    about his early days in Bolton and his war years
    and he told each of them in turn about the

    coal box exploding in his trench and killing
    all his pals who were sitting on the other side
    to him, you couldn’t even find a shirt button,
    and the pencils scratched and shutters clicked

    and the Zeppelin once more crashed
    onto the hospital where he was convalescing
    and the clickers and scratchers giggled
    at the irony, nervously. And the bit about

    his young and daring friends who went to Paris, AWOL,
    just for the night, before the next push, and crept back
    next morning, only to face a firing squad. The officer,
    who gave the execution order, smiling, like he was God.

    Over the top, not them, more uncomfortable smiles,
    and clicks and scratching, keep your heads down lads,
    the machine guns were set at five foot five so at five foot
    three the bullets went straight over your head. And then

    the bit about the King’s conquering heroes, returning
    from the front, unemployed and re-enlisted to put down
    the revolution, which not many people know about. It could
    have been like Russia, you know, but led to his narrow escape

    to Canada and return to Liverpool as Bolton’s only fully
    certified cowboy, click, scratch; are you getting all this?
    And the lads who’d survived the Somme but not the voyage
    back from Quebec; how he’d helped to throw the bodies overboard;

    there’ll always be some gallon of a foreign sea which will always be…
    and all that. And the pencils broke for tea, because it was all too much;
    the Mayor had arrived to shake his hand, have another photo and look at his
    telegram from the Queen.

  15. Hazel

    April 3, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    SOLDIER

    I’d felt my life blood leaving me
    “Hold on” I heard you say.
    But could I withstand the injury
    That I’d sustained that day?
    I fought with all my might for breath
    I prayed out loud to God
    I tried hard not to think of death
    As I laid bleeding on the sod.
    “We’ve summoned help without delay“
    “Keep strong my son, keep strong”
    “The chopper is now on it’s way”
    “I pray it won’t be long”.
    I felt so weak and helpless
    The pain unbearable
    My body just a bloody mess
    Was it repairable?
    Just like a babe, you cradled me
    Gently held against your breast
    Though each breath I took was agony
    To give me comfort was your quest.
    I faintly heard your shout of joy
    “Thank God you’re here make haste”
    “Take care, this lad is just a boy”
    “His death would be a waste“.
    They set to work immediately
    Soon I was in the air
    Away from war and enemy
    Back to a land so fair.
    I’m afraid I didn’t make it
    Even with that soldiers toil
    My shattered body blown to bits
    I died on England’s soil.

    I know how many tears he cried
    He thought that I’d be spared
    But when he heard that I had died
    His faith just disappeared.
    Now I’ve become a hero
    Though he must soldier on
    I really want to thank him so
    He was father, I was son.

    The debt to him I now repay
    His faith I will restore
    As I’ll watch over him each day
    For now and evermore.

    Hazel Werner

  16. E

    And they say
    ‘E suffered.
    ‘Im. T’ Son o’ God.
    Aye.
    But ‘E,
    never got ‘Imsen shot,
    for not singin’
    God Save The King in,
    three ton o’ mud.
    ‘E,
    never got ‘Imsen
    sent over t’ top
    wi’ ‘Is arm in a sling.

    It’s ‘ard to stick
    in a bayonet,
    wi’ your arm in a sling.
    I ‘ope you never ‘ave to!

  17. “Bugle Boy”

    ‘The Bugle Boy stood on the mound.
    He played the Reveille….
    ……….No-one came……’

  18. Jane

    April 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Two poems written on the theme of War and Peace: a father’s poem and a daughter’s response. (In English, then in Spanish.)

    Poppy Red

    Oh my poppy red,
    As I gaze into your crimson head,
    I see great armies stain
    You, as through the grain
    They stealthily tread.
    And one by one, their blood is shed,
    As war’s scythe of jagged metal
    Deepens the colour of your petal.

    D.E.Phillimore (1921 – 2012)

    Poppy White

    Oh my poppy white
    As I look into your guiding light
    I see great leaders fallen,
    As their dumb calls
    For us all to fight
    For them, vanish in the night,
    Replaced by grace and peace of mind
    In petals soft for all mankind.

    R. I. P.
    Hombre por la Paz

    Jane Skellett

    Hambre por la Paz

    Amapola Roja

    Oh mi Amapola Roja,
    Como mira en tu cabeza carmesí,
    Veo grandes ejércitos de la Mancha
    Usted, como a través del grano
    Ellos sigilosamente la pisada.
    Y uno por uno, su sangre es derramada,
    Como guadaña de guerra de metal dentada
    Se profundiza el color de sus pétalos.

    D.E.Phillimore (1921-2012)

    Amapola Blanco

    Oh mi amapola blanco
    Al mirar en su luz guía
    Veo grandes líderes caído,
    Como sus llamadas tontas
    Para todos nosotros a luchar
    Para ellos, desaparecen en la noche,
    Reemplazado por gracia y paz de la mente
    En pétalos suaves para toda la humanidad.

    Jane Skellett

  19. John

    April 25, 2014 at 7:56 am

    John Osbourne

    His father was a Norfolk farmer,
    and his daughter was four years old
    when my Grandfather died
    in the merchant ship boiler room
    torpedoed by a German submarine
    in 1914.

    My aunt Rose was two years old:
    she would not have remembered her father.
    Perhaps that is why she nearly drank
    her way into oblivion in adult life.

    Her children saw her damage
    and became tea-total non smokers.

    My mother was the poet
    though nothing was ever written down.
    Was my Grandfather a poet too?
    I shall never know
    but wished I’d known him.
    And I can’t start to feel my Mother’s ache,
    only having a ghostly image
    to hang onto – a little love – a little knowledge.

    And that harrowing picture
    as the torpedo struck, the scolding steam,
    the darkness, the searing pain,
    the agony of death: his death in 1914.
    How that must have come and go
    all through her life.

    John Neville Jarrett

  20. War Bride

    Our bodies lay cold, still,
    In these our separate graves.
    Yours with your fine, smooth skin
    torn apart, limb from limb
    Sinks ever further in
    to the silent fields
    Where even the birds will not sing
    Nor the bees care to hum
    Where all’s still drowned
    by the battles drum

    Oh, our bodies lay cold, still,
    in these our separate graves.
    Mine bleeding its’ silent tears
    into our cool worn sheet
    hand stitched in that summer
    when our life would be long
    where our hearts song
    dared it’s dreams
    and won.

    Our bodies lay cold, still.
    In these our separate graves.
    And there is just no shade
    From the long, long days.
    And no children play
    in our un-planted garden
    as ours remain unborn.
    And all our dreams,
    our hope and plans.
    Our life.
    Torn.

    Rachael Muller

  21. Poppies

    I look out across the soddened muddy landscape
    Potholes full of water scar a land bereft of existence
    The snow lays like a shroud, covering in a white drape
    And over all the scene is a sad all pervading silence

    All around a frozen hell, snow, mud and barbed wire
    A drifting blanket of cold mist undulating from sight
    slowly from the still silence, the voices rising higher
    Stille nacht, heilige nacht a ghostly choir, in the dim light

    Christmas day, nineteen fourteen, Tommy they call
    Is that you Fritz! the reply floats across no man’s land
    The sun rises as in the mist they answer, shadows all
    A spectral army slowly advance with extended hand

    To this poignant scene of comradeship God is my witness
    To this sadness in the filthy trenches of the Somme
    As sad men share sorry smiles and a meagre Christmas
    Amidst the blood, and the shell holes, friends they become

    I feel very strongly, I know that death is very near
    Anywhere in this desolate barren hell it could be
    I look around, I see the laughter and good cheer
    I look at the men, playing football, a new comradery

    Boxing day dawns, the truce over, hostility now resumes
    A shot rings out, another man falls, they again tremble in fear
    The Christmas spirit drifts away with the acrid smoke plumes
    As I survey this dreadful scene and shed a final tear

    I survived the great war, and never went into the dark
    They told us that we fought so that Men could be free
    The war ended, shelling ceased, battlefields that were so stark
    Are gardens now, poppies as far as the eye can see

  22. Flanders Fields

    Cannon’s roar on the last battlefield’s
    memories fade yet never ending
    only the tear’s remain
    those hard bitter ground’s

    Where grass or plant will not take
    only the poppy grows there
    a gift from God of our shame
    its bloody redness decorates our coat’s and recollection’s
    the lord Kitchener call
    your country needs you in time of war

    On the fields of Flanders
    the young men died for reasons unknown
    for only Honor was bestowed on bravery
    the fallen flowers of a generation
    died that we might recall their bravery
    the bugle plays the last post
    the call to arms has been silenced
    only the tears of generations will reflect
    on what might have been

    What bravery
    what reckless call to arms
    for king and country
    for peace
    there but for the grace of God
    on the fields of Flanders
    we shall remember them.

  23. Susy Churchill

    May 30, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Time travel is easy.
    Reach across a century:
    read poems and diaries;
    study grainy photographs:
    young men marching off,
    returning on stretchers.

    Time travel is uncomfortable.
    Quaint terms: ‘service’, ‘duty’,
    ‘honour’, ‘obedience’.
    Awkward concepts,
    dropped in the swinging sixties.
    Strange to cynical ears.

    Time travel is hard.
    Their sacrifice humbles.
    I cannot feel what they felt,
    see the world as they did.
    I lack the innocence
    to inhabit their world.

  24. Tony Baker

    June 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Two poems remembering the Second World War

    Childhood Memories 1

    I almost remember the siren scream
    As dream turned into nightmare,
    And the night air panicked itself
    Into dusty clouds.
    Then, while the brick dust made us sneeze,
    My grandmother shrugged fear into the back room,
    Struggled me from the bath
    Crying and giggling;
    Soap slipping like netted fish,
    And bundling me in damp towels
    Scampered to the shelter.
    Wheezing and sobbing to the heavens,
    She screamed oaths with the rasp of hatred
    Born with the telegram
    Deep in her dark blue pinafore pocket.
    I think until the ‘All-Clear’
    I whimpered with fear,
    But whether of the bombs
    Or her anger
    I’m not really certain.

    Childhood Memories 2

    Uncle Herbie, dressed in khaki
    Sits on Grandma’s mantelshelf,
    Seems embarrassed, somewhat sheepish,
    Wishing he was somewhere else.

    Winnie’s with him, boiler suited,
    Large cigar clamped in his teeth,
    Gripping hero Herbie’s shoulder,
    Points to the V.C. beneath.

    Cuttings from the daily papers,
    ‘Mentions in despatches’ too,
    Lovingly displayed by Grandma
    Still preserved in passe-partout.

    There’s a postscript to this story
    Desert ambush ’41
    There were very few survivors
    Uncle Herbie wasn’t one.

    Tony Baker

  25. Carly-Ann Clarke

    June 20, 2014 at 8:45 am

    To love a Soldier

    The patient desire that summons him near,

    Rosy blooms each time his name is uttered,

    The agonizing final call, the voice that will soon become a man,
    pressed against me,

    For all the waiting, willing, wishing, a sudden attack of shyness
    beams through my body,

    Butterflies, difficult to liken it to such delicate creatures,

    When this chaotic, raging, wanting reddens beneath my skin.

    The letters reveal and cement such closeness,

    Yet that first embrace will feel brand new.

    His lips search and find mine,

    And I am his.

    Carly-Ann Clarke

  26. Hazel Werner

    July 9, 2014 at 6:45 am

    THEY SHOULD BE THERE

    A Mother should be there,
    To comfort and to care,
    As her precious boy lays dying,
    A Mother should be there.
    A Father should be there,
    To take away the fear,
    As his son cries out in agony,
    A Father should be there.
    A comrade should be there,
    Together they have shared.
    As brothers fighting side by side,
    A comrade should be there.
    A preacher should be there,
    To offer words and prayers,
    To thank God for the brave young man,
    A preacher should be there.
    But it’s an angel who is there,
    When he no longer gasps for air,
    She lifts him from his hell on earth,
    There is an angel there.

    A GREY DAY

    He felt the warmth of the sun on his face,
    And the comforting love of his Mother‘s embrace.
    His Father reached out, shook his war-weary hand,
    And welcomed him back to a much better land.

    They sat him right next to the warm kitchen fire
    And urged him to eat, all he desired.
    The feast on the table was fit for a king,
    There was nothing left out he could eat anything.

    He smiled at his family with tears in his eyes
    Remembering the day that he’d said his goodbyes.
    But now he was happy his battle was done.
    No more would he fight or carry a gun.

    Then he opened his eyes and to his dismay
    Found he was smothered in thick mud and clay.
    He gasped out in pain with each move that he made
    And his nostrils filled up with the stench of decay.

    He was slumped in a corner, the trench blown apart,
    And the only things moving were the rats and his heart.
    Like giant rag dolls flung down in a fit
    His comrades laid out, all broken to bits.

    Hands clutching weapons lay, thrown in the mud
    Rats, licking their bodies and lapping their blood,
    Like a death sodden blanket, the greyness appeared
    It was hell, it was evil , and nobody cared.

    He looked down at the ground, a crimson pool at his feet
    And his heart started to flutter and missing a beat.
    It was then that he heard it, those shouts from nearby
    And he called out in anguish and started to cry.

    They came to his rescue, perhaps he would live,
    But he’d never forget and perhaps never forgive,
    Those men from on high, who at their behest
    Sent out those young boys, to a premature death.

    Hazel Werner

  27. Shirley Lambert

    July 9, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    The Extraordinary Soldiers

    War made heroes, from young men
    The future everyday working man
    Called up for duty they marched with pride
    Towards the terrible: unknown.

    Freedom is the love of a good home
    Loyalty and comradeship is known
    To help them return to their wives
    Could they re-build trust: in their lives?

    ………………………

    War turned everyday men into heroes
    Called up for duty they marched with pride
    Towards that terrible unknown
    Until freedom was won

    The silent wounds were deep
    Some stories never got told
    Still, they returned to be a working man
    Never: to be the same again.

    Shirley Lambert

  28. Ian Knight

    July 13, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    The Trench

    The ground is softened by moonlight,
    The steel strands make eerie patterns against the sky,
    The trench smells of decay, gun oil, sweat, and cordite,
    The men lie on duckboards cradling strange bedfellows,
    The gun, and the bayonet.

    All pretend to be asleep, eyes screwed tight against tomorrow,
    The moonlight has gone, the ground has a shroud of mist,
    The sun has risen, chasing darkness; the men rub red rimmed eyes,
    The remembrance of where they are sharpens the senses.
    The daily ritual now has to be performed.

    Yesterdays stubble has to be scraped away,
    With blunt razor and fetid trench water,
    Like casting away a second skin,
    Tomorrow they might not be so lucky,
    A mug of water and army rations are their breakfast.

    The time is close is close now, the last smoke,
    The stomach muscles tighten, over the top,
    No mans land beneath their feet,
    The brilliant flashes of fire, a sea of bayonets,
    The flower of a nation cut down in swathes.

    The attack is over; the men are back in the trench,
    So many are not there, gone back to mother earth,
    they smoke, and make idle chatter,
    The trench smells of decay, sweat, gun oil, cordite.
    And a feeling of being alive.

    A Portrait in Red

    The eyes are filmed in red now,
    Breath a precious thing now is short,
    The mind slips back to childhood now,
    Sun filled days, mysteries of the night,
    The warmth of mothers breast,
    The blackness of the womb.

    The haze of red is slipping now, to a total blackness,
    Strength is gained to speak, mother, god, help me,
    There is a golden light, green fields stretching away,
    Who stands there? the feet begin to run,
    The legs are made of lead, the heart is thudding,
    Mother.

    Mother the word is stolen by the wind,
    The scene dissolves into a myriad of light,
    A central core of gold washes over,
    Upon his lips a smile,
    Sleeps the soldier,
    The world goes by.

    Ten Seconds

    The clouds cover the sun as a shroud,
    The birds sing in the vault of heaven,
    A soldier stands with woman and child,
    Tears lay upon their cheeks,
    He bends, their heads come together they are one,
    They part tearful goodbye.

    The soldier sits in a swaying lorry,
    His mind back with woman and child, the sun gone to sleep,
    The lorry lifts as if a great hand has cast it aside.
    The soldier feels the soft earth beneath him,
    The birds sing, no, not in this circus of death,
    The soldiers soul flees this darkened vale.

    A woman and child stand on Flanders field,
    A posy of flowers mark his spot,
    His until the last day,
    Mother earth his coffin, khaki cloth his shroud,
    Ten seconds pass, a lifetime of love lost,
    A man lost to life he loved so dear.

    From the banks of the Somme to the cross of the Kirk,
    Granite pillars stand, monuments to the folly of war,
    Man goes to war so we might live in peace,
    Peace he brought so dear,
    Nothing more can be taken,
    Nothing less can be given.

    Ian Knight

  29. Janet S. Rogers

    August 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Silhouetted against the Sun (Recurring dreams of childhood)

    Silhouetted against the Sun,
    Their outline moves slowly
    In lines beyond,
    Further than the eye
    They march on

    Upward through white fluffy clouds
    As two hands reach out from heaven’s gate
    Welcomes them in
    Their service to mankind is done
    Comrades on the battle field
    As their life blood seeps into the mud
    Their souls their life force leaves
    Not one is walking on this path alone

    Another night I see faces
    Women and children on one side
    A chain link fence
    With barbed wire
    spiralled top all the way along
    Men and boys stand silent in naked lines
    Guarded by snarling barking German shepherds
    And men in Uniform

    I hear the screams of thousands
    See hands reaching through
    As if to touch a loved one saying I will remember you
    I see a father smile his face against the fence
    A little girl with tear stained cheeks
    Kisses his hand as he reaches through
    As she says Daddy I want to come with you
    He tries to comfort her one last time
    Before the guard pushes him into line
    And he is led away

    I hear the silence
    The murmurs on the wind,
    Smell the sickly plume of smoke that rises
    As bodies burn,
    It’s carried on the breeze
    Generations lost in ashes
    I hope their souls go on to meet again
    And the energies of all are free

    Another I remember the first when I was three
    I run through a forest many more run with me
    I know I am running from an internment camp
    Somewhere on the borders of Germany
    Along with many more I am running
    In an effort to be free
    I hear the machine gun fire
    As others fall around
    Below the evergreen canopy of firs, bracken and fern
    Their bodies fall like nine pins are still upon the ground

    I hear, off to my right
    Tanks,
    Their tracks crunch as they roll along a gravel path
    As troops and dogs and gunfire echo in the mayhem
    I hear a crack whiz past my ear,
    Then feel a pain in my left shoulder as the next one hits its mark
    As I fall into the curling fern it strokes my face
    I take one final breath and everything is dark

    Then in a blink I see a light in the distance,
    Its beauty shining bright
    Overwhelmed by peace I’m drawn away from the night
    I feel that I have been here many times before
    That although our bodies may die in the physical sense
    Our souls and energies live on

    Janet S. Rogers

  30. Janet S. Rogers

    August 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Peace by any other name

    Blood red petals scattered
    In a far off land
    Lapels display respect for the fallen
    Whilst loved one’s stand in silent tears
    And try to understand

    Monuments stand tall
    In memory of the brave
    With endless list of fallen names
    Lives lovingly engraved
    A tomb in a far off field
    Yet remains without a name

    Our country receives
    Repatriates young braves
    Remains draped in the Union flag
    Are carried home on planes
    It seems that every day another son
    Makes the sacrifice
    Another someone’s son or brother
    Pays the ultimate price
    So many more are injured
    No life will be the same
    In the cause of peace and freedom
    By any other name

    It was said that the World war
    Would be the war to end all wars
    And yet the words of Winston Churchill
    ‘Never have so few ‘and we will never surrender
    Are echoing once more

    So as you carry on the task of living everyday
    Out of sight is out of mind
    As you watch your children play
    There in a foreign land
    Far away from home
    On another shore
    In the hills and desert sand-In Iraq and Afghanistan
    The struggle rages on

    So that freedom by any other name
    May one day reign and peace unite us all

    Janet S Rogers

  31. Anthony Di'anno

    August 14, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Ode To A Blade Of Grass

    Oh! whispering blade, ever hath your kin,
    Swung and danced over grabbled graves of mine,
    Where nightingales are oft enticed to sing,
    To those mown down in regimented line,
    Who once as barefoot lovers trod you well,
    Then swore allegiance to a sovereign lie,
    To fall in foreign fields where poppies swell,
    Coffers in answer to a bankers cry,
    ‘Tis true the sons of man can ill afford,
    The blood they spill upon your verdant sword,

    Still you embrace them all both friend and foe,
    Line the verges that mark their pathways home,
    From mist strewn glens to mountains topped with snow,
    Through each sunrise beyond the evening’s gloam,
    Bejeweled with bright sparkling beaded dew,
    You welcome them all and feel not their hate,
    The atheist, christian, muslim jew,
    You enfold them all in eternal wait,
    Unconditional in your soft embrace,
    Thou carer for the bones of every race,

    You know full well that all things come to pass,
    That in due time, to you everything yields,
    If only men could stand as blades of grass,
    Knitted together
    in love’s morphic fields,
    Maybe then they would do all that they can,
    To ensure they let not their freedom seep,
    And walking now where as a boy I ran,
    Moving towards my own eternal sleep,
    Still, still I cannot for the life of me,
    Understand why men must die, to be free.

    Anthony Di’anno

  32. Lani M Robbinson

    August 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

    at home
    force fed with red refreshment and forced to wear fig leaves
    allusions to progression and thirst for change quenched
    leaving only the bitter aftertaste of undigested hope
    thrown up into the throat of self enlightenment
    gradually falling deeper into sedation by the robot Mesmer
    coaxed to anticlimax by flat screen wet dreams
    of sirens promising happiness in a bottle
    because you’re worthless.

    in distant lands
    fire drawn hammer of the mangods
    distant glint of matt black machines
    wielded by children
    duped into being triggermen
    by power hungry fingermen
    augmenting reality from behind the curtains
    in emerald cities
    far from the dust and the black tar perspiration.
    purpose served and essence spent into history
    echoes of lives lost before the good night had drawn in naturally
    hearts and names once carved into bark,
    now cleaved from flesh and bone
    finally coming home
    stained by the dust and the black tar perspiration.
    The saline restraint of the oldfathers
    the cheated eyes of the childrens children
    the mocking smile of the widow’s pension
    the coming back different than you were before
    consumed by the dust and the black tar perspiration
    ————————————————————-
    This is the first poem I’ve shared with anyone so any feedback would be welcome. Thanks

  33. H. Bullen

    August 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    To Whom It May Concern: A Promise

    Profits were made
    on the tops of the graves
    they fought the wars
    those old boys
    riches were won
    but the soldier saw none
    your be alright
    if you fight my son
    your be alright
    years on
    the wonder has gone
    the fee I wont need
    for I am joining the
    others you see
    to tell of the dead
    your be alright
    your be alright

    H. Bullen

    Another War

    The school has gone
    my house was bombed
    my dad he died
    my mother lied
    my sister was sent
    to a life more content
    being seven she will
    probably go to heaven
    my mother cries as
    well has lies
    me being four
    she hugs me
    more and more
    I wonder whats
    in store
    another war

    H. Bullen

  34. Louise

    October 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Remembrance Day

    “You’re going to weep, just watch your soul”
    is the Lou Reed misquote I wrote to start this poem

    Today is about remembering, well
    I remember him

    I try to remember everything which has taught me to be humble
    that I must not grumble about my life
    to appreciate the sacrifice without which
    I would not exist

    I remember my great-grandfather
    whom I never met
    He was a blacksmith who loved horses
    and when the Great War came
    or so the story went
    they sent him wherever the horses were sent
    He came back
    but was never the same again

    I remember the ponies who lived life in blindness
    down in the pits where their scent lingers still
    and imagine the kindness they might have been given
    by men, who like them, were a long way from heaven

    Yes, I remember cruelty inflicted on man, child and beast
    then only wish to spend my time
    redressing wrongs
    and doing right

    Louise Schachter

    Go to this link to watch Louise read this poem at The Platform earlier this year:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU2zynoJel8

  35. Patricia

    November 17, 2014 at 12:09 am

    REMEMBER

    Red is the Poppy red is the blood
    Spilt on the fields and trodden in mud
    Given in a second and given with love
    Taken from sight but blessed from above

    Remember forever we must never forget
    Those who fought or those who were left
    For those gone and those who have cried
    Wear the Poppy proudly wear it with pride

    Patricia Taylor

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