Veteran Poets


 

Bright, sunlit banners wave as soldiers march.

As Francis Ledwidge, Irishman, parades,

The sight and sound of laughter fill the air:

“To war!” The drumbeat stirs all hearts to share.

 

Bold men are damned yet ready for the dare.

Brave men, for glory, stepping forth as one

as Wilfred Owen’s ‘Artist Rifles’ share;

as Robert Graves, ‘Goodbye To All’, declares.

 

Their family and parents cheer as well.

The goodbye girls wave hankies in the air

as hurried hugs abound, excitement swells

before reality meets deep despair.

 

Oh, ra-ta-tat, the gleeful drums abound

before the sound of bullets split the air.

Sigfried Sassoon of Royal Fusiliers

gives up Owen prior to the Armistice.

 

And, Rosenberg still writes among the dead

before he’s buried with them in a trench.

As Isaac speaks for all, his soul will rest;

his poems on scraps of paper mid the stench.

 

Gray throngs of people slow to ghostly swirl

and float above the fog in fate’s mirage.

The young and hopeful heart, his body hurled

lies stripped of gaiety mid this cortege.

 

The veteran, with courage, harp and fife

survives the battle has the hardest write

for he remembers faces filled with worms

and frozen eyes who’ve lost their warmer light.

 

The poet’s name now writ upon a stone.

The ink, now dry, describes his final line.

Reverse his boots upon a saddled horse;

Slow roll of drums, now distant, heard no more.