THE JOURNEY

MARSHLAND 1 TO E AND M

God is with you on this journey,

Neither man nor spirit will trouble your path,

You have suffered enough.

Pain is finished

And tranquillity and peace now begin,

You deserve no less.

It is your right.

Your faith has been questioned,

Your courage tested.

Only love has remained with you

And this you have grasped tightly,

Using its strength as your sword

And its sincerity as your shield.

You are a warrior of life

And a victor of death.

Go now with confidence,

Only truth waits

And it holds no fear for you.

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A TIME BEFORE

THE STORM TO BRAIN AND JO

I was there in that time before.

Heat burned my face and smothered my brain,

Worn limbs held my metal too heavy,

Sorrowful eyes tired at the rotting death,

It rings clear as the heart that now beats.

Women cry in tragic nightmares,

Blood seeps from my tunic like a sticky rash,

Salt sweat mixes with blood from a bitten tongue,

My stomach is empty and aches from sickness.

This other world this other time,

It remembers me as I remember it.

It pricks at my consciousness and cuts at my soul,

It heightens a guilt that I have no understanding of.

It is a memory of hell,

Of morals cast to the deep and all reason shed for lustful passions,

Of so called bold actions taken in hysteric anger.

A memory of hate in a loveless world.

It stands now to accuse me.

Me, in my simple world of easy decisions.

It remembers and will not relent.

I was there in that time before

And am forced to believe and must never forget.

RETURNED HOME

51

 

I have returned home and brought enchantment with me.

It is enough that the pleasant season is here without my silly happiness.

From the window,

I hold my breath at the beauty that I see,

So unlike yours.

Fields are infinite in a corn yellowed haze,

Primrose woods shine butter like on hills,

Villages are sleepy and ignorant of my pleasure,

It is the time of peace and prayer.

I will purge my whole being of remembering.

My life is explosive and can suffer no more,

Too much love and I will drown for ever.

I must listen to sweet music and paint soft scenes,

I must smell fragrant flowers and eat crisp lettuce,

I must remember nothing and at the same time everything.

Decisions must be taken from me and dissolved.

I must bathe in cool water and lie on green river banks.

It is the time for pointless questions and final answers.

It is the time for being and belonging.

I AM A VILLAGE

SUFFOLK 11 SOLD

I am a village of mildewed houses

I am a village of cobbled streets

Here is my church that always guards me

Here is the hall where my people meet.

Here are my old ones worn and withered

Here are my babies bright and new

Here are my lovers and their heartaches

There are my children with nothing to do.

There are the cornfields in that far country

There are the lanes so leafy and bright

There are the ditches dark and dewy

There is the farmer who guards them right.

There is the bus stop to distant countries

There is the money that will take you there

Here is the bus all empty and lonely

Here is the ticket if you dare.

I am a village with a purpose

I am a village, a place to hide

Here is my hand to grasp you tightly

Here is my shield to protect your side.

Stay with me always and forever

Live in my bosom so cosy and warm

Don’t ever leave me or go to another

And I will defend you from every storm.

FRIDAY NIGHTS – 1946

10. BLUE THINGS

And when Friday nights came,

We talked easy in our minds of the week’s work done.

We talked of rationing and Billy Higgins, killed on the Somme,

Of penny buns and Dan the drunkard,

Of white Christmases and Dolly, who died of sleeping sickness.

Grandma drank her Guinness

And baby Sid had a second helping of Farley’s Rusks.

The cat next door had the top off the milk

And little Jean O’Leary wet her knickers for the umpteenth time.

Mums everywhere thank God for fish and chips

And Dads thank God for mums.

Friday night was festival night and we weekly revellers were glad of life.

Factories and shops forgotten, the dread of Monday was far away.

Only the excitement of Saturday and the peace of Sunday to anticipate.

The drone of working days had ceased,

And the magic of Friday nights had us under its spell.

BEING POSITIVE

LAST GOUACHE SOLD

I’m going to be positive

I’m going to be firm,

It’s not going to be easy

It’s a hard thing to learn.

When you’re surrounded by nasties

With greed in their soul,

It’s difficult to swallow

An impossible goal.

The ‘W’s ‘are various

And they’re messing my patch,

With plots for the future

Just waiting to hatch.

Politicians and royalty

Bureaucracy and greed,

They’re stirring the pot

For a bloody good feed.

But when I’ve achieved it

This positive peace,

They’ll be no more moaning

All anger will cease.

I’ll be boring but happy,

With a smile on my face,

Fixed and staring

Like death’s cold embrace.

A bomb in my belly

About to explode,

But with the timer extracted

And put on to hold.

I’ll be saintly and silent,

I’ll be kind to you all,

I’ll be Saul on that road

Just about to be Paul.

I’m going to be positive,

I’m going to be firm,

It’s not in my make up,

But I’ll just have to learn.

MY DEAR SON

21.WRITERS WINDOW

My dear son,

The swifts are leaving for the summer lands

And the nights come quickly to this old man.

I can hear the leaves drifting in the yard,

Piled by the wind in those golden heaps that so fascinated you as a boy.

Sam sends his love with a yawn,

Lying by my chair in dreams of dog fantasies.

He, like me, grows old but still clings to life with enthusiasm.

A race to death between us I always think.

Bread baking and the smell of fresh pine cones on the fire,

Imagery of home for you.

I am in good health but dread the coming winter without our talks and chess games.

I sometimes wonder if I dream too long

And you will shake my old bones with a pot of tea ready on the hob.

Instead, you are there confronting the four horsemen of evil,

While I pray for their swift defeat.

Why is it that the young always fight old men’s wars?

It seems a tragic irony; a reversal of right.

God gives us strange burdens to shoulder,

My dear son.

Your mother now safe in the churchyard

Would have hated you going.

I often see her sitting opposite me, real or unreal I know not.

I still sorrow,

So hard to forget, so hard to remember;

Another burden for us both dear God.

The door is open and if I turn I can see for ever all you love.

I send it now in this letter to you,

My dear son.

A breath of sanity and beauty

In that troubled world so far away.

How I wish we humans knew another way,

But life must have its purpose whatever road it takes.

A grand design must be the only answer

And questions must wait.

The postman – I will write later –

Probably a letter from you.

My dear son,

The telegram was quite short;

Almost a nightmare of relief over at last.

The postman’s hand was shaking and we both knew.

There was no need to speak the sorrow so honest in his eyes;

We are both old men.

I will finish these few lines to you,

Finish what has been started,

Checkmate played to the end

Even though each player is aware of the inevitable.

The leaves still rustle in the yard

As they did a few minutes ago.

They will go on, as must Sam and I,

And finish the game alone.

I shall not write again,

Love to you as always,

My dear son.

 

My Grandfather was captured in the early part of the first war when his trench was overrun and my Great Uncle Tiny was killed.

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