1st July 1916
The roses of Picardy are blooming
Red like the blood we will spill
The sun shines onto the yellow wheat
That drifts and flows in the summer breezes.
We face the Saxons, brothers-in-arms,
This quiet landscape will soon explode,
Shot through with the bloody gore of war.
We swore. Eleven divisions we had, our lads.
My tommy gun spat bullets for days
My hands are bloody, burnt and raw.
Sweet Christ what was it all for?
1st July 2016
His old terraced house is knocked down now
All the kids he didn’t have
His mother’s flowers never bloomed at all.
Time spread-out like the AIDS
Quilt, of decades later.
Besmirched by bloody innocence,
Cancer of all sorts.
All the women who never wed
They married the dead instead.
Now all we have is this strange music
Of boots and mud.
(dedicated to the abiding memory of Pte Jack Prince of the Cheshire Regiment)