War Poems - Poems For War

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0354 Not Quite War - Poem by Michael Shepherd

Too young to know the horrors of a war I've fought,
too young to know war's fear, or yearn for heroism,
but old enough to have lived through;
boys but one year older than myself
lived and fought and died; and younger, some,
who fought in Malaya, Kenya, Korea, to the death...

Slit trenches in Hyde Park were the first photos in 1938,
apart from the official ones to stir our patriotism;
then cycling home from town as radios in every house
spread Chamberlain's sad patrician voice
telling us with regret that from Herr Hitler
'no such reassurance has been received' -
and consequently Britain was at war...

Leaving the house which Mother had designed and Father built
a bare few yards from the barbed-wired beach and sea
where unbeknownst to us, the Germans planned to land
their first invasion of support troops and supplies...

Herded one day unwarned into the basement changing room at school;
the first invasion scare; accompanied by - was it serious
or not? - the story that our wicked enemy
was to parachute its advance troops disguised as nuns,
but you could spot them as they descended
by their boots...

The Junior Training Corps turned out as firewatchers and Home Guard
with the Lee Enfield rifles, the wind-round puttees,
the smell of cordite and of rifle oil
of equipment - oh supreme irony - kept from World War One,
the 'war to end all wars', to be continued;
our Sergeant Major's face
a scary pattern like a camouflage, part white, part livid skin
from mustard gas in that first bloody war...

Days of vapour trails in the sky, as we cheered
the sky-high calligraphy of aerial dogfights;
the nights spent in the thump of bombs;
the prickly uniforms for us raw cadets; the battle drill;
the kick of grown-up rifle butt in shoulder,
the assembly of the machine-gun; the naming of its parts;
all this in far-off teenage memory;
not quite war.

But war enough.


Comments about 0354 Not Quite War by Michael Shepherd

  • Rookie - 0 Points Ghada Shahbender (5/22/2005 4:33:00 AM)

    Any encounter with war is war enough. This poem has brought back so many memories to me. I can really relate to what you describe here. I lived through two wars (1967 and 1973) and if there is anything I wish for my children never to have to live through, it is that experience. Thanks again Michael. GS (Report) Reply

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  • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (5/19/2005 2:19:00 PM)

    this is simply wonderful, Michael! i swear as i read this i heard the theme from the Bridge on the River Kwai whistling in my ears.

    Jake (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 3 Points Gillian.E. Shaw (5/19/2005 2:12:00 PM)

    I loved it Michael! The poem feels like England and something she can't quite forget. Well done! (Report) Reply

Read all 3 comments »

Poems About War

  1. 51. 0354 Not Quite War , Michael Shepherd
  2. 52. On Being Asked To Write A Poem Against T.. , Hayden Carruth
  3. 53. The Black Hawk War Of The Artists , Vachel Lindsay
  4. 54. Love And War , Arthur Patchett Martin
  5. 55. Sir Giles' War-Song , William Morris
  6. 56. [war For Re-War-Ds & Profit Sneering] , Louie Levy
  7. 57. News Of War , Henry Kendall
  8. 58. A Field That Saw A War , sylvia spencer
  9. 59. 0108 Two Poems About War , Michael Shepherd
  10. 60. In Spite Of War , Angela Morgan
  11. 61. To The Man-Of-War-Bird , Walt Whitman
  12. 62. The War After The War , John Le Gay Brereton
  13. 63. War And Peace , Franklin Pierce Adams
  14. 64. 0430 Why War? , Michael Shepherd
  15. 65. On War , Augustus Montague Toplady
  16. 66. War, What Are We Fighting For? , Nadalia Bagratuni
  17. 67. The Last War , Christine Andrews
  18. 68. Against The War , Ivy Christou
  19. 69. A War Song! , Sylvia Chidi
  20. 70. War And Peace , Nate Snowball
  21. 71. Sun Tzu’s Art Of War (Newly Revised & Up.. , Michael Philips
  22. 72. To England At The Outbreak Of The Balkan.. , Alan Seeger
  23. 73. War Photograph , Kate Daniels
  24. 74. 0007 War: One For Frank And Whomsoever , Michael Shepherd
  25. 75. End Of War , Herbert Nehrlich
  26. 76. Bob Dylan Wrote Masters Of War , Uriah Hamilton
  27. 77. War + Lives Add Love = Freedom , Dave Tanguay
  28. 78. .35) After Viewing 100 Photos Of Mideas.. , Max Reif
  29. 79. In The Time Of War, Xii , WH Auden
  30. 80. Home In War-Time , Sydney Thompson Dobell
  31. 81. The War Of The Children , Aldo Kraas
  32. 82. Memories Of War , Joseph T. Renaldi
  33. 83. Children Of War , William Sutherland
  34. 84. World War Ii = Best Of The Rest War Poems , Tom Zart
  35. 85. 0015 Aftermath Of War , Michael Shepherd
  36. 86. Casualties Of War , Not Long Left
  37. 87. ' War ' , Gordon Whittaker
  38. 88. Memories Of War , Linda Hepner
  39. 89. War Of The Words , Linda Ori
  40. 90. The War Of Inis-Thona , James Macpherson
  41. 91. War On Depression , Ferret Girl
  42. 92. War Thoughts , Herbert Nehrlich
  43. 93. War Memoirs , Herbert Nehrlich
  44. 94. It Was The War To End All Wars , Richard S. Wells
  45. 95. World War Two , Dale T. Stewart
  46. 96. War On Words Ends Now... , tiyler durden
  47. 97. War , Daniel Chapman
  48. 98. A War , Sylvia Chidi
  49. 99. The War-Song Of Dinas Vawr , Thomas Love Peacock
  50. 100. Senryu 19 (War Is War) , Savita Tyagi
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