wrenching knotted stomach, rifle in my hand.
mud to fight and die for here, and there, in no Mans land.
smoke and cigarettes pervade the morning air.
holes dug in the clay, we wallow in the mire.
minutes so they say, until we live or die,
and bones jut out of mud from where they fell and lie.
saw a man just last week, with whom I’d oft supped ale.
laughed at sunrise and died at noon in the carnage of Passchendaele.
man who sits next to me is weeping silent tears.
writes a letter home, allaying parents fears.
and run from this madness is my instinctive urge,
unseen harmonica, down the line, recalls a mournful dirge.
King and country so they said, a shilling for your time,
stand in the town hall lobby and sign the dotted line.
your pals they all said, you’ll miss them all and pine
lost three just the other day from a faulty sappers mine.
time ticks by in my mind, the minutes soon accrue,
many left until over the top, three or only two?
light a Woodbine, I look down, only seven left.
it lucky seven or will my parents be bereft?
hold my rifle ever close. I feel the tightening grip,
Sergeant takes out his pocket watch, the whistle to his lips.
lookout peers above the parapet, the snipers bullets whine.
Sergeant looks us up and down, “Come on lads it’s time”
stand upon our trembling legs at the dawning of the day,
go back” The Sergeant says “Leave shot friends where they lay”.
whistles blast, the thumping heart, ready for the push,
wooden ladders, a seething ordered rush.
twenty yards of mud and mire before the searing pain,
fall hard behind the wire and my blood begins to drain,
with the stagnant pools, I cease to hear or see,
the corner of some foreign field, will be forever me.