Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Nightmare on Civvy Street


I was against the war in Iraq and have never been any too happy with the presence of our troops in Afghanistan. However, both are down to our politicians. Our servicemen and women are doing a fantastic job and deserve nothing less than our 100% support. (M.O.D. please note).

While I fully support anti-war demonstrations, I have nothing but respect and admiration for those front-line men and women who risk their lives daily in the name of peace. Many pay the ultimate price. Others do not receive the 100% support to which they are (surely?) entitled. The dead invariably make headline news, but what about the injured?

There are, of course, two sides to every war. Both genuinely believe they are in the right. We should not be too quick to condemn an enemy comprising many ordinary men and women who, too, risk their lives in a common cause...however much other may deplore that cause.

Whatever, politics fights a dirty war with precious little thought (if any) for those in the front line other than its own [The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a prime example.]


A soldier, an arm and leg in traction
(truck blown up by a mine)
reassuring us he feels fine, just fine…
while half-listening to pulp fiction;
no regrets, he says, well worth
any price he’d known he might pay
for the thrills and kills every soldier
sees but as Hobson’s choice

As the audio story starts to spread
dark mischief in his one good ear,
he leans forward as if trying to peer
into shadow lands of the dead;
war’s is mother’s milk, he explains,
to those with subtle convictions
like its paymasters and those politicians
floating victory on the wind;
the audio voice ducking and diving
the whistle of a sniper’s bullet,
the blind young soldier ducks a hit;
beads of sweat, a legend for living

Honourable discharge, fighting off tears
for all the world's nightmares

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

[Note: This poem first appeared under the title 'Sweating it Out' in On the Battlefields of Love by R N Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]]

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