Day 25 — the actual war to end all wars

As always, Anzac Day crops up as a potential topic during NaPoWriMo. I’ve written before how this day is a conflicted one for me (see previous Anzac Day poems for more, particularly last year’s addition to the oeuvre). And as with two days ago (Bill Shakey Day) having the theme of “climate change” superimposed over “Anzac Day” initially flummoxed me. Until this idea presented itself, which in my opinion, solved the conundrum perfectly.

*****

the actual war to end all wars

sure we’ve trounced off to battle 
like it’s some sort of boy’s day out-
church picnic-gungho adventure-what!

just because the mother country demanded it
when her monarch couldn’t solve a tiff
with two of his cousins

yes we’ve fought proper wars against fascists 
& communists & nazis & people who believe 
different silly things to our silly things

& tragically, traditional custodians of our own nation 
— enemies real but more often fabricated 
to serve the current political narrative

wars which we endlessly celebrate 
in often mawkish, sometimes trite, 
occasionally deeply moving ways

but our biggest battle is all around us
yet most cannot see the war being waged
funded every day by billions of dollars

from multinational companies who believe
their right to profit outweighs a home
habitable by all — humans & animals alike

Day 25 – reasons (& relations)

25 australian_infantry_small_box_respirators_ypres_1917-awm.jpg


Because Anzac Day always falls during NaPoWriMo, I often myself writing about it owing to my many & varied (often conflicting) emotions about it. I think I could quite easily publish a chapbook of just Anzac Day-themed poetry. 

Once again, this is not the poem I set out to write, that one remains half completed needing more time & more research to complete. It is conceivable that parts or all of this poem may one day make their way into that more encompassing piece.

*****

Lest we forget

i.
When Cousin George
declared war
against Cousin Wilhelm
in August 1914,
13 year old Australia,
a British Empire dominion
was likewise at war
— automatically.
We had no choice.

ii.
While many thousands of young
men eagerly rushed to enlist;
thinking it a grand adventure
to assist three spoilt imperial cousins
squabble over colonial interests;
Australia twice voted against conscription
as political parties split & formed new
alliances, elections were fought
& a Prime Minister resigned over
the contentious issue of our involvement.

iii.
60,000 Australian diggers
were treated for venereal diseases —
almost as many who were killed.

iv.
When the war was over
thousands of thousands of men
many with debilitating physical
wounds: torn limbs, gas-burnt lungs,
missing eyes, metal-sliced flesh;
as well as those enduring
post-traumatic stress disorder
back when it was much more
poetically named shell-shock:
the warhorror of bursting bombs
mates exploding next to you,
then days in the trenches
alongside their rotting corpses,
had to be re-integrated into a society
revulsed at the monumental destruction,
keen to resign the war (& too often
those symbols of it) to the past
& attempt to resume normal life.
Many soldiers kept their war silent.
But many of those did not
  or could not
                        make the transition.


 

BONUS POEM: April 25, 2018

In France. In V-B. 100 years on.

*****

Idols

for many windswept years
it’s been our special story
entrenched in lore & legend

my grandfather’s uncle
his father’s younger brother
guts unpacked by a MG bullet

killed in the battle
to retake Villers-Brettoneux
early morning, Anzac Day 1918

however today I met three
families with the same story
all blood drained from it

like a carcass on the hook
plus the bone dry testimonies
of half a dozen more

which has simultaneously
made our special day
less  & a little more   so

25b vb names.jpg

Day 25 – poem about peace

cow-in-poppy-fieldCROP

Today is always a day of conflicting emotions for me. Been trying to resolve my attitude towards it for 25 years. This is one of the pomes that came out after percolating about it all day. I’m happy enough with it. Hope my googleTranslate French is accurate.

Voix parmi les vaches

All I’ve heard for a long time now
is French farmers calling their cows.
It’s a musical enough language
& everything sounds more beautiful;
but I do miss the Aussie drawl
And the sky over this western front
Is no where near as big as
the west where I was once from.

The sun has gone down.
All my comrades have grown
old, gone beyond. Joined me,
in their way. So let us sleep.
We are grateful for your thoughts
but our graves no longer want
or need your remembrances.
You offer us a minute of silence.

Let’s try it for a century,
see if we can let it all just, settle.

 

NB Very hitech technicalised tech issues meant I was unable to post yesterday’s NaPoWriMo post as intended. About quarter to twelve with the image chosen, the bulk of the text typed into this blog & most of the miscellaneous tags & faff taken care of, I was suddenly unable to type anymore: turns out the rechargeable batteries in my wireless keyboard had gone flat & being the organised soul I am, I had neglected to backup charge any for, oh some weeks…

 

Day 25 – The Year of One Day

Today is a controversial day for many. But it’s been good to me. The past 2 years now, I’ve got good poems out of it. Today I re-read Alan Seymour’s “classic Aussie play” The One Day of the Year, about the changing face of Anzac Day in the 60’s. I haven’t read it since uni, & ironically while it has dated, many of the issues it explores are still ones that people argue about today.

I began with its last line (Last Line, Gone) & continued from there…

the last post

i.

love its haunting frail warbly wobbly squeaky somehow off-key, off-kilter
voice trying to be courageous to death’s face but never quite succeeding
forlorn melancholy brassy vulnerability half-farting battlefield bravado
but most of all the strange perception that no matter how well played
it always sounds like there’s a note wrong in there — somewhere

ii.

yes, it’s time to turn off the taps we’ve had our last warning
your duty is done your time is over your rest deserves peace

last postCROP

The last line of The One Day of the Year is: “i’m a bloody Australian & i’ll always …

Day 25 – “Birth of a Nation” Day (Alleged)

This is either the 3rd or 4th poem I’ve completed today (all about Anzac / WWI). & while I like the others, I’ve chosen to go with this last hour composition because it kinda has an edge the others don’t — even if my sounding board is unsure about its poesy.

*****

recipe for the world’s best Anzac biscuit

Ingredients
1 cup rolled duty
1 cup raw recruits
1 cup plain patriotism, sifted
¾ cup desiccated Colonialism
125 g adventure, melted
2 tablespoons Golden Age of Innocence
½ tsp bicarb of courage
3 tablespoons boiling anger

Method
Preheat the society to 40+ degrees. (Denying climate change will help here.  Note: If your society is fan forced, it’ll escalate quicker.)

Line your history books with a bunch of lies & mythos.

Place the duty, colonialism, patriotism & recruits in a bowl, stir with wooden rhetoric to combine. Melt the adventure & golden age of innocence in a melting pot over low heat.

In a separate bowl, combine the courage & boiling anger, then add this to the adventure/golden innocence mixture.  It will probably foam up & increase in size.  That’s good. Pour this foaming mess into your dry mix & stir.

Once it’s all combined, use a tablespoon to drop mixture onto trays, spacing them about 20 years apart.

Bake for 100 years or until golden brown — just kidding, it’s gotta be mostly white.  Sometimes if your society looks like it’s running out of recipe, you need to rotate the trays in the 70’s, then add some carefully sprinkled jingoism in the 90’s so you get an even bake.

Leave biscuits to cool on beach about 8 months before transferring to other racks to cook & cool in different places — France is good, as is the desert, the jungle.

Store in an old biscuit tin that your grandma gave you. They’ll last months.  Try not to scoff them all within the day.

Finally, please do not share them with anyone offshore. We don’t do that anymore.

Codicil: They really are delicious. And there’s nothing wrong with eating them, enjoying eating them, telling others you’re eating them — just try & understand the reasons why you are.

 *****
anzac biscuits

Day 25 – April Twenty Five: “national identity day”

As I get older I understand Anzacs, Anzac Day & war more. I also understand it less. Hopefully this poem written at the Dawn Service my Papa used to attend when alive & which we go to in memory of him captures some of those understandings.

keeping the peace

bagpipes fight
the magpies
for supremacy
in cool April air
chilling autumn
leaves & evergreen
eucalypt alike
church bells bless
try to reconcile
that age old
oxymoronic misnomer
fighting for peace

aware what Anzac is
but still shocks
to see the guns
of the catafalque
party so close
reminds it’s more
than just speeches
stirring words
holidays
it’s also old men
getting under
standably drunk

*****

soldier

Image: moi