11.11.2020: different kinds of Remembrance

November is a month which has a special significance for many people. It is also a time of contrasts – thoughts of those lost to us often take place in rooms infused with exceptional light, of a quality seen at no other time of the year.

The following poem is a Tanka, the shortest of my four contributions to Words from Battlefield – an anthology featuring exceptional poet A.C.Clarke – launched on 24 October 2020.

For some, remembrance relates more to matters of war. This year the focus has been mainly on World War 2 but I am going to finish off with a poem which relates to one of the horrific battles of the First World War. The message is the same. This was one of my contributions to the 2018 Dove Tales Anthology A Kind of Stupidity and is also featured on the Dove Tales Scotland website.

memorial (passchendaele 100)
 
 bugle notes intone
 the hundred millionth earthly post 
 
 commemorating
 how easily 
 men who would not wish to 
 be enemies
 become
 cannon fodder
 in the cause of power
 
 muddied and bloodied and mostly youthful 
 conscripted or seduced by words untruthful 
 lambs slaughtering lambs as they are slaughtered
 all as ordered, all as ordered 
 
 dignitaries come
 from ivory towers
 
 commemorating 
 hundreds of 
 thousands of mud-swamped 
 casualties 
 sacrificed a hundred days under boot 
 as trade for five miles 
 so-called advancing 
 
 muddied and bloodied and mostly youthful 
 conscripted or seduced by words untruthful 
 lambs slaughtering lambs as they are slaughtered
 all as ordered, all as ordered 
 
 inherited wealth
 and ceremonial garb
 
 commemorating 
 loss lest we forget,
 always knowing 
 that those who govern 
 will once again choose 
 the farce of war
 as the way forward  
 
 standing by the latest of a hundred million wreaths
 into the horn the solemn bugler breathes
 what is nevertheless 
 never the last
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