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 12 – hares (& old stones)

12 hares in snow lino prints

Been playing round with some hare-inspired poems. This is my reconstruction of a West Country legend of a witch who takes the form of a white hare.

*****

white hare

while hunting : in the afterbones : of night : her siren warning : sways over the valley : a white hare warms me : goldeneyes gleaming light : look away look away : must not stare : into her eyes : or my soul : she’ll steal : a swift shadow approaches : white haired woman : wooing me : face of ashen grey : begging me to stay : look away look away : white belly : dancing bare : on the heather : from dusk till dawn : hounds bray

look away look away

 


 

BONUS POEM: April 12, 2018

Part of the holiday experience is visiting places my ancestors left a century or more ago. This is one of them.  EDIT: formatted lines the way I wanted them to look last year, but couldn’t owing to facebook.

*****

wandering round the churchyard at St Winnow

good Cornish stone sprouting
                                                 grey
among green dandelions
                                        & wild cowslips
long ago some single
still yet-to-be great
  great    great     great    grandparents
left what they thought a harsh life
for one with more
                               hope
in the far off dust
                              of Australia

a short prayer away the Fowey
flows south
                    like silver slate

I walk over lusciousness
wanting to make amends
for a hiccup of snow amongst
stones so weatherworn
 & lichenloved
                        they’re illegible
we vow we’ll remember
                                       forever
when a generation
or two is the most
                              most of us get

so though I might be
                                treading on
ancient ancestors
given the perfection
of their forgetting
                             place
I don’t believe
                         they’ll mind

12b St Winnow

Day 5 – 25 Easter Sundays ago today …

Last one. Today is D-Day.

*****

the five

we were never a five – not properly – not all
together – not ever – yet in my head – we always
were – still are – forever will be – nothing can change
that – even though everything has changed — every thing
except the great                                                                                empty

.

*****

silent_hill_by_kr_2y_51_3k-d55td6p

April 13 – Day Thirteen: SUNDAY SILLY (part ii) [Family Caricature]

Today’s effort is inspired by a family lunch.  

Disclaimer: It is intended as Caricature Poem only. No resemblance to any person living or deceased is intended (except Aunt Ricky).

family luncheon

sitting down for yet another never-ending family luncheon
i notice what a truly unsightly gaggle we are as a clan

nana’s lazy eye, which double crosses her every time she’s tipsy
dad’s weak chin, still there, despite trying to hide behind a beard

mum’s jagged line of perpetually decaying dental disaster zone
grandpa’s bushy black eyebrows waggling like warring caterpillars

uncle frank’s franciscan friar’s bald patch, a tonsure reflecting god’s light
papa’s broad potato splodge nose, an elephantine red pontiac hit by a brick

sis’s dumbo ears, which if caught in a tornado would transport her to oz
aunt ricky’s wine&pizza-fuelled paunch — no, not 7 months preggers!

gran’s, actually granny is the most attractive one at the table by a country
mile … so nothing to say (besides it’s her birthday so i needs be nice to her)

while i admit i’ve inherited each & every of these delightful genetic quirks
i would stlil have liked the opportunity to pass the whole glad grabbag along
to the next unfortunate generation of freaks, causing equal amounts of angst
embarrassment remorse & bitterness … & the contemplation of plastic surgery

*****

100 lighting cake

Image: Granny using her cake candles to light her cancer stick.