I couldn't imagine not being affected by the events leading up to and on Remembrance Day and so have been creating a poem that I've intended to try in previous years. Not being of an age where I could have fought in any wars doesn't prevent from being affected by their destructive violence and gut wrenching aftermath, nor does it stop me from writing about it.
I have tried to capture something of the futility and the ongoing nature of the hurt even when the bullets have stopped.
A Soldier’s Lot
Patriotic young men lied about their age
to protect their country – war to wage.
Wearing woollen uniforms sizes too big
carrying weaponry in a webbing rig.
Digging trenches for miles in Normandy’s mud
half expecting to fill them with their own blood.
Yet youthful exuberance drove them forward
over the edge and pushing onward
with no certainty of returning
and assuaging a families yearning.
But onward they went to the killing ground
believing they were the toughest men around,
thinking they would be the ones to kill
then returning if it was God’s will.
The men facing were just as confident
convinced that their cause was the valiant.
Once the starting gun was discharged
God only knew which boys would be recharged
to their young, exuberant and promising lives,
a national lottery as to which ones survive.
Metal projectiles have no preferences
human flesh offers few defences
and is ripped, torn and misused
leaving the owner screaming, abused
or silent if the hurt is too great
consigning youth to war’s own fate.
In the aftermath there were many lost and maimed
even those returning were scarred and shamed
by the chance of a future not given to others,
guilt tearing them over the death of their brothers.
So to those who hold the power of decision
in the event of conflict a moment’s hesitation
may prevent a nation’s unnecessary heartache
for their people who fight and the families you break.
© David L Atkinson November 2014