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
When Cousin George
against Cousin Wilhelm
in August 1914,
13 year old Australia,
a British Empire dominion
was likewise at war
We had no choice.
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.
60,000 Australian diggers
were treated for venereal diseases —
almost as many who were killed.
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.
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