Harry - Poem by Steven Cooke
(Humbly dedicated to the last veterans of World War One)
He stares through the window
In wheelchair he knows,
Gabriel is just a pause behind him.
His last duty, to open a door in his mind
Of memories torn from 1917, where he left,
Jack Fred and Bert, Pals forever
A moment singled out from a thousand days of torment
Bully Beef, Baccy and sweet tea in the Morning
A pair of socks from a loved one,
And friendship forged in the baptism of War.
These were his treasures, His only relief
Then the guns of Britannia, manufacturing widows by the gross, as
Gas and Shell screamed for their quota of today’s carcass.
For a moment Harry felt sadness for his foe
Then it was gone
Heart Beating, Breath quickening, Stomach in Knots,
Fear held in check to avoid the Officer’s gun,
No time left, Stay Close Jack, Fred glanced,
While Bert squeezed a locket around his neck
A quick nod, The Soldiers farewell
Then the whistle, Gabriel’s Horn, over the top
His refuge abandoned, for the embrace of the fog,
It masked the land, as if to avoid offending God
Slowly creeping its vale of death,
Gun in hand they walked into the grey.
Fodder for the Machine gun, No defense, we fall.
Once more our lads are summoned into oblivion.
Their blood sanitizing the soil with England’s youth
Like a red carpet, for their comrades to walk the next day.
Then the retreat, back to his rat infested trench
Gods reward he thought,
Then Roll call, Silence for Jack, Silence for Fred, and Silence for Bert
Harry felt shame in answering, for a second; he too wanted to embrace silence with his pals.
But Soldiers must go on, as do the righteous
And England expects
For I fight for a Heavenly cause, so I’m told,
Though I do not know what that is
All I know is fear
Although this impostor, I can live with
You see my friends are gone;
My humanity is lost
And my soul awaits its next trial
Is it a blessing that I am alive or,
Just a delay,
For death stalks me, waiting for his reward.
My sanity saved only by the sweet tea and a fag,
Dry socks, and a letter or two from home
No time for sentiment, the whistle,
Oh, there you are Gabriel welcome.
Hello lads where you been.
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