Above The Vaulted Sky

Above The Vaulted Sky elegy

Photo by westy48

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

Have gone.

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.

Cells. Blooming.

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)

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John Marks

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A father of five I work for the Open University in the UK. I have had two collections of poems published: 'Sound Bites' by Envoy in 1992 and 'Lifting the Veil' by NHS in 1997.
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