Saturday, November 16, 2019


Unarguably there.
One smooth white block of stone, memorial to the ordered dead.
Her Majesty lays the wreath, steps back and dips her head.
Behind her, in perfect ranks, her guardsmen, bearing guns.
Behind the guard those politicians, silent for once,
Shoulder to shoulder, as if they were at one,
As if no war had ever been their fault.
Behind them, in order, captains of court,
Then marching servicemen, and civilians
Who serve the suffering people,
Readers of papers, like newsprint, all in neat lines.

And after them, wheel to wheel, as if they had been ruled,
Are veterans with absent or paralytic legs,
And after them the ones with faces shattered or burned
And following them, the ragged mass of those who cannot stop crying
Cannot stop fighting, cannot sleep, cannot be housed
Cannot move on from images in their eyes and brain
Cannot stop their visions of carnage,
Cannot believe that a fit and healthy man can one second be
A living, laughing mate and next a scatter of red lumps.
A brain so full of play, even in the hardest times,
Could now be just grey matter sliding slowly down the white stone wall.

Not there.

© Richard Lawson

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