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POETRY

Here is a selection of my poetry for November..

LAST MAN STANDING

(I.M. Harry Patch 17/06/1898 – 25/07/09)

 

The bugle sounds, the flags unfurl

 

in memory of a modest man

 

whose life was haunted by a dream

 

of clinging mud and fearful noise.

 

 

He’d heard the cries of injured men

 

while being marched to Pilchem Ridge,

 

then crawled through mud, turned red by blood,

 

and, to a random shell, lost friends.

 

 

He said that war was nothing more

 

than murder by another name –

 

this last man from that fading band

 

who fought at Ypres and Passchendaele.

 

 

The nation saw him as a link

 

to multitudes who gave their lives :

 

a living emblem for the lost –

 

an icon to be eulogised.

 

 

But Harry Patch eschewed his fame –

 

despised the glorying of war;

 

It’s just showbiz…Remembrance Day” –

 

he hated pomp and ritual.

 

 

A soldier’s send-off held at Wells –

 

but he’d not want an ornate tomb,

 

reluctant hero to the end

 

he’ll rest in peace at Monkton Combe.

 

NIGHTMARE

The Government’s
NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK
states that there should be a “presumption in favour of development.”

 

 

Imagine no more horses,

 

their pasture torn from view,

 

no rabbits and their warrens,

 

no heron, deer or shrew;

 

imagine all those houses

 

growing in our lane…

 

 

Imagine big earthmovers

 

hauling our lives away,

 

grubbing up the blackthorn hedge,

 

ripping out the may;

 

imagine all those workmen

 

with their bricks and sand…

 

 

Planners say I’m alarmist –

 

but I’m not the only one;

 

I see rows of starter homes

 

and concrete in the sun.

 

 

Imagine no green vista :

 

no view towards the stream,

 

shiny homes climb up our hill

 

to steal a rural dream;

 

imagine all those people

 

and their traffic jams…

 

 

Planners say I’m alarmist –

 

but I’m not the only one;

 

I see rows of starter homes

 

and concrete in the sun.

 

THE LAST FIELD

Foxes can't be bothered searching this land,

 

passers-by would never praise the view;

 

in all the years, nothing here has happened,

 

those visiting this field are very few.

 

 

There's no clear stream hiding rare brook lampreys

 

or muddy pond where crested newts may grow;

 

no protected flora ever grew here —

 

even common bluebells never show.

 

 

No ancient oaks — rubbing posts for cattle —

 

a place to safely harbour local bats;

 

listed birds like nightjars never nest here,

 

you'll never see a rabbit or a rat.

 

 

Men in suits with plans arrived this morning,

 

they scheme to join my village to your town

 

and take away this last green space between us —

 

our countryside gone...like blown thistledown.

 

DEATH of the POET

Till now, she’d never thought of it before :

 

how charity shops live off the dead.

 

Taking a pride in what she gives away,

 

his clothing clean and carefully pressed,

 

four bin-bags mark the passing of a life.

 

 

 

And life seems slight when it’s so easily

 

packed away; his treasured possessions –

 

aspects of his life – lose their relevance,

 

separated from their owner’s past.

 

 

Emptying shelves and drawers, she discovers

 

nothing’s really owned by anyone –

 

 

possessions outlast owners come what may

 

and, in death, we desert them in the end.

 

 

 

Leaving the shop, she hurries on her way,

 

taking, as her keepsake, all his words.

 

LOST BOY

It is an art, communing with the past

 

when memory is like an iceberg’s tip:

 

my previous life submerged, just out of reach,

 

so I need conscious faith to keep my grip.

 

 

How do we keep alive what once we were?

 

Where is that boy who only I knew well?

 

As time has passed so we have grown apart:

 

my previous self seems like a tale I tell.

 

 

And from this distance can you see the boy,

 

detect the heartbeats’ flow from boy to man?

 

The future calls for me to walk away,

 

to leave this ocean, stumble on inland…

 

Behind me footprints fade, merge with the sand.

ALL POEMS ON THIS WEBSITE ARE SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT