War Poets

Paul Verlaine’s Chanson d’automne
was coded – still popular poetry –
to give notice –

his long sobs of French-sung violins
declared an Allied invasion
to those listening

Whilst she never understood speeches
of love – and our common
mistakes –

I would rarely read to her – she rarely read
my mutterings – my weight-pared
compositions

She never understood what was being said
She found poetry too difficult
her own résistance


Kurt

So it goes – from the
slaughterhouse cellar
under Dresden –
At that safe depth –
with Werner Gluck –
his half-relative

An unholy war
as narrative – but
it has no time line –
it makes no sense –
until historians
claim a victory
from those events

Grandpa stood
with the PPU –
he fought in fields –
not foreign felder
he eyed the loam
from his pacifist shelter

On the other side
an enlisted man –
my dead grandfather –
shelled on thin sand

Objectors

My father – his own father
was a conscientious objector –
My grandfather laboured
under a slow faith – assured –
by the Peace Pledge Union –
he mumbled as a lector
when turning – digging – veg
in the later world war –
and then in my early life –
Both battled the last century
over their long-dead causes


E07012019

Shells


I stand at a window
in the heart of Beirut
counting bullet holes
in the wall opposite:
Fireworks overhead,
jarring the senses,
reviving my long-buried
childhood memories:
And what does the man,
fourteen floors below,
make of such explosions,
in his war’s afterglow?
I am here for a meeting,
in this luxury hotel,
for hedge fund managers
who will all go to hell.


The Night Before Remembrance Sunday


East Hoathly, Sussex. 

We walked the limpid lanes,
empty, except for
the to-be-exploded
indolent traffic cones;
here it is dank under high clouds
and low wood smoke,
with no street lighting,
except the garish fluorescents

strung off vulgar food wagons,
which, in turn,
are measured out
along the drip-drip lanes:
A miracle, in this remote place,
feeding the five thousand,
not one disciple put off
by the high-vis Police,
or God’s bad weather,

as ever unwelcome in these bonfire towns.

We met an angel, alone,
at the far end of the playing field,
her troubled illumination
an alliance of digital arts,
with her hands held out,
palms up, her timber shell fragile,
as if saying:

‘I was not real, I was not there, I am fiction’.

She was sacrificed, as planned,
like every shot down man
in the bloodiest battles
we could impose upon the poor:
these nations, these players,
these generals, these slayers.

Her cast embers heated debris at eleven am, Sunday.


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