Remembering…(edited redux)

Photo on left – My Grandfather with his wife and daughter. Photo on right – His son, my uncle. Both British Army – WW1 and WW2.

Long gone now into peaceful death

they both survived the horrors

of the wars,

but at what cost:

Cruel black holes torn

in their lives

beyond words and understanding.

Their tongues frozen

when asked about the war

and the other war,

the never-ending wars.

 

I know from his medals

that uncle, or ‘Nunc’

as he liked to be called,

fought in Europe and Africa

and the Dunkirk landings.

Of my grandfather nothing remains

but his cremated silence.

 

Two lives fragmented

in stinking mud, nightmares and hate.

Two lives who sacrificed

many seasons of  laughter,

sunlit meadows, family picnics,

planting gardens, raking leaves

and reading by winter fires.

 

Instead they fought in hells

I cannot imagine,

watching friends ripped apart

by jagged metal,

drowning in poison gas

or burned alive in oily seas.

They crouched in fetid rat holes

while the sky concussed and screamed.

Shivering with cold and wet and fear

they dreamed of home,

warm clean beds,

kettles whistling on stoves,

hot baths, purring cats,

the embrace and love of wives,

friends and sweethearts,

and peace, blessed peace.

 

Protected by tenuous good fortune we believe

we are at peace, but the wars continue

and we are not immune from the violence

and torture in our world.

We are never safe from the grinning generals

and their demonic dreams of power.

 

/Poem by clinock/

 the survivors

The Survivors by Kathe Kollwitz – lithograph. 1923.

 

Poem by Ts’ao Sung  (ca. 830-910)

 The hills and rivers of the lowland country

You have made your battle ground.

How do you suppose the people who live there

Will procure firewood and hay?

Do not let me hear you talking together

About titles and promotions;

For a single general’s reputation

Is made out of ten thousand corpses.

kathekollwitz_sumiao04

No More War by Kathe Kollwitz – lithograph, 1924.

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