Gert Strydom

Gold Star - 29,864 Points (03 April 1964 / Johannesburg, South Africa)

Ghost From The War - Poem by Gert Strydom

A military base close to the border
that divides our country from that of the enemy,
a tent through which the wild wind
at gale force strength blows red sand,
pressed into a war by politicians
who decide about the destiny of men.

A trench where enemy soldiers,
women and children lie shot dead,
ripped apart by hand grenades
and mortar bombs
and from the outside
it looks like patriotism, national interest
for which you do service
but on the inside you are caught
by destiny
where other people like gods
take decisions that have an impact on you.

Dead are the innocent,
bystanders, a young man
who hasn’t even come to age
and there are flames
that burns right through the thorn bushes,
where a Ratel armoured car is burning
and I wonder about the presence of God,
about the lot of man
and the thorn bush burns, the whole veldt
is in flames.

Being lost makes me sober
while I try hard to forget
of the havoc that I know,
how war ravages, destroys, tramples
and how easily people die, especially those
that doesn’t really deserve it
and everybody are settled into
just another number and name.

[Reference: Ghosts from the call by Japie S Strydom:

“ a fortress,
a trench,
a tent,
an institution
for the mentally insane;
Big syllables on the outside in large characters type:

From the outside
a shadow that falls without end
from the inside a prison.

Being bound,
day long working, trying to remember,
remembering to withdraw,
to spend time, by writing meaningless sentences
wondered, though about:
our home,
no Father.

a command,
a decree,
An invitation to recognize,
identification of:
a soldier
a man,
a boy,
still somewhat a child,

Killed between the branches
of a burning umbrella-thorn bush
almost like Moses with God,
but burnt right out of his boots
almost not stopped burning
with white phosphor that doesn’t want to die
I saw again today:

In the thick bush
– returned to earth
in the stomach blood of a boy
mixed with sand.” (My English translation.) ]

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Poem Submitted: Friday, August 6, 2010

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