Archive for ‘War’

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Warchild by Yomi Sode

We clasp onto wishes for hope.
Wishes, that wet the dryness of our tongues
while our parents pile bricks and ruin against
the door from inside.

Sweat drops from my father’s face,
He smells as though time has run out.
We hear the music in their feet
the percussion in shell cases ringing concrete,
greeting our door like neighbours
for Sisi, who talks about London and France.
And, me.

From: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/16/poets-speak-out-for-refugees-

Date: 2015

By: Yomi Sode (19??- )

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Monday, 24 June 2019

Testimony of Baby Haydova by Seni Seneviratne

Beirut – 14th August 2006

In days to come I may grow older
learn to speak the names for anger, fear, forgiveness

but these days all I know is how my mother often
holds my face so tight against her that I feel

the tremors of her heartbeat pumping through my veins.
The smell of her blood will never leave me.

Take your picture now
then tell me why I have been saved.

From: https://badilishapoetry.com/seni-seneviratne/#inline1

Date: 2006

By: Seni Seneviratne (19??- )

Saturday, 27 April 2019

War by Richard Kelly Tipping

The idealists are being booed off the stage again.
The people want to hear the cynics and the cynics
want war. After this one there’s no before.
The war needs people but the people aren’t quite convinced
they want the war. A compromise at last:
send the idealists to fight!

From: https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/tipping-richard/war-0238087

Date: 1986

By: Richard Kelly Tipping (1949- )

Friday, 26 April 2019

Recruitment Officer at Harvest Time by Graham Kershaw

He scooped the cream, he picked the crop
harvesting the room of capable men
at country dances in Nineteen Fourteen,
peeking beneath rough shirt-sleeves
and dusty britches to the flower of youth
ripening: gleaming calves, stony chests
stacked tight into a row of faithful friends,
stiff-collared to a man, in common stubbornness.

Returning later, he gleaned the rest:
the dreamers, loungers, older men stiff of limb,
gathering them all in, taking their hand,
winning them over with his uniform, his gratitude
and manners, even the whisper of his trousers,
murmuring temptations to stand and link hands
like bashful girls in daisy chains, dancing
out of the room, into the harvest of distant tombs.

From: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/11/11/4126144.htm?site=greatsouthern

Date: 2012

By: Graham Kershaw (1961- )

Thursday, 25 April 2019

ANZAC Day by John Forbes

A certain cast to their features marked
the English going into battle, & then, that

glint in the Frenchman’s eye meant ‘Folks
clear the room!’ The Turks knew death

would take them to a paradise of sex
Islam reserves for its warrior dead

& the Scots had their music. The Germans
worshipped the State & Death, so for them

the Maximschlacht was almost a sacrament.
Recruiting posters made the Irish soldier

look like a saint on a holy card, soppy & pious,
the way the Yanks go on about their dead.

Not so the Australians, unamused, unimpressed
they went over the top like men clocking on,

in this first full-scale industrial war.
Which is why Anzac Day continues to move us,

& grow, despite attempts to make it
a media event (left to them we’d attend

‘The Foxtel Dawn Service’). But The March is
proof we got at least one thing right, informal,

straggling & more cheerful than not, it’s
like a huge works or 8 Hour Day picnic—

if we still had works, or unions, that is.

From: https://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/12312

Date: 2002

By: John Forbes (1950-1998)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The Press of Other Lives by Panni Palásti (Eva Brown)

Like a leaf of grass
in a dense pasture
I am entwined in the tendrils
of other lives.
My roots tangle
with their roots.
My need for light
shares their need.
My reach for food
meets with their hunger.
I dream their dreams
and taste their tears.
Their faces may fade
on my night screen,
their cries smothered
by my remote,
but they echo,
claim and crowd me,
make me swallow
more than I can hold.

From: https://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/opinion/79090878/war-poetry-not-just-for-anzac-day

Date: 2016

By: Panni Palásti (Eva Brown) (1932- )

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

After Loos by Patrick MacGill

Was it only yesterday
Lusty comrades marched away?
Now they’re covered up with clay.

Seven glasses used to be
Called for six good mates and me —
Now we only call for three.

Little crosses neat and white,
Looking lonely every night,
Tell of comrades killed in fight.

Hearty fellows they have been,
And no more will they be seen
Drinking wine in Nouex les Mines.

Lithe and supple lads were they,
Marching merrily away —
Was it only yesterday?

From: https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/after-loos

Date: 1917

By: Patrick MacGill (1889-1963)

Thursday, 18 April 2019

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

What happens when they leave
is that the houses fold up like paper dolls,
the children roll up their socks and sweaters
and tuck the dogs into little black suitcases.
Across the street the trees are unrooting,
the mailboxes rising up like dandelion stems,
and eventually we too float off,
the houses tucked neatly inside our purses, and the children
tumbling gleefully after us,
and beneath us the base has disappeared, the rows
of pink houses all the way to the ocean—gone,
and the whole city has slipped off the white earth
like a table being cleared for lunch.

We set up for a few weeks at a time
in places like Estonia or Laos—
places where they still have legends,
where a town of women appearing in the middle of the night
is surprising but not unheard of. The locals come to watch
our strange carnival unpacking in some wheat field
outside Paldiski—we invite them in for coffee,
forgetting for a minute
that some of our own men won’t come home again;
and sometimes, a wife or two won’t either.
She’ll meet someone else, say, and
it’s one of those things we don’t talk about,
how people fall in and out of love,
and also, what the chaplains are for.

And then, a few days before the planes fly in
we return. We roll out the sidewalks and make the beds,
tether the trees to the yard.
On the airfield, everything is as it should be—
our matte red lipstick, the babies blanketed inside strollers.

Only, our husbands look at us a little sadly,
the way people do when they know
they have changed but don’t want to say it.
Instead they say, What have you been doing all this time?
And we say, Oh you know, the dishes,
and they laugh and say,
Thank God some things stay the same.

From: http://www.versedaily.org/2013/mengoofftowar.shtml

Date: 2012

By: Victoria Kelly (19??- )

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Places Without Names by Philip Edmund Booth

Ilion: besieged ten years, Sung hundreds more, then
written down: how force makes corpses out of men.
Men whose spirits were, by war, undone: Salamis,

Shiloh, Crécy.  Lives going places gone, Placenames
now, no faces.  Sheepmen sent to Passchendaele:
ever after, none could sleep. Barely thirty years:

sons like fathers back to the Marne. Gone again to
Argonne Forest, where fathers they could not remember
blew the enemy apart, until they got themselves

dismembered. Sons, too, shot. Bull Run, Malvern Hill:
history tests. Boys who knew left foot from right
never made the grade. No rolls kept. Voices lost,

names on wooden crosses gone to rot. Abroad,
in rivers hard to say, men in living memory
bled their lives out, bodies bloating far downstream.

On Corregidor, an island rock of fortress caves,
tall men surrendered to small men: to each other
none could speak. Lake Ladoga, the Barents Sea, and Attu:

places millhands froze, for hours before they died.
To islands where men burned, papers gave black headlines:
Guadalcanal. Rabaul. Saipan, Iwo. Over which

men like torpedoes flew their lives down into the Pacific.
Tidal beaches. Mountain passes. Holy buildings
older than this country. Cities. Jungle riverbends

Sealanes old as seawinds. Old villages where,
in some foreign language, country boys got laid.
Around the time the bands again start up, memory

shuts down, each patriot the prisoner of his own flag.
What gene demands old men command young men to die:
The gone singing to Antietam, Aachen, Anzio.

To Bangaladore, the Choisin Reservoir, Dien Bien Phu,
My Lai. Places in the heads of men who have no
mind left. Our fragile idiocy: inflamed five times

a century to take up crossbows, horsepower, warships,
planes, and rocketry. What matter what the weapons,
the dead could not care less. Beyond the homebound wounded

only women, sleepless women, know the holy names:
bed-names, church-names, placenames buried in their
sons’ or lovers’ heads. Stones without voices,

save the incised name. Poppies, stars and crosses:
the poverty of history.  A wealth of lives.  Ours, always
ours: these holy names, these sacrilegious places.

From: Meek, Jay and Reeve, Franklin D. (eds.), After the Storm: Poems on the Persian Gulf War, 1992, Maisonneuve Press: Washington DC, pp. 15-16.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=zRVaAAAAMAAJ)

Date: 1992

By: Philip Edmund Booth (1925-2007)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Survivors by Jeff Friedman

They come back with wool sweaters
and coats smelling of straw and shit

smoking their old cigars
ashes flaking from chin and cheeks.

They come back with glistening shells
pain in their joints — rooms of water.

Salt glittering on their lips
they walk on rock

where fish gasp and choke
and stars cluster in sand.

Sun rains into the abyss.
They come back with ruined hands and backs

hurling coins across oceans
building bridges with knots and fists

digging up cities of corpses
rotting under the rainbow

as doves fly out of their pockets
scavenging the carnage.

From: http://www.2river.org/2RView/13_3/poems/friedman.html

Date: 2009

By: Jeff Friedman (19??- )