Another journey into World war One

World War 1


The Sergeant


The rose cannot compete

with the sweet smell of death,

only her image can forgive.

 Laid upon the silence

of another boys coffin,

which hides this journey in life.


Your shame will not bring him back.

So win your war on kitchen table

for old men know best,

glory is for you who drink to them.

Your lads are entrusted

to fight an old man’s dream,

that age has altered with lies.


Inspire them with your bravado,

“the machine gun you can take”.

But bullets give no warning,

shells care not for heroes

and pain will not spare them.


 I who should have died long ago

will take your lads over the top.

To meet this vision of glory

and perhaps some of them

 will share with me the victory

 of living for one more day.


For victory is the crows feast,

defeat will always find another battle.

Life is to obey another order,

and time is the torment of mind

Which counts the heart beats

to the next ordeal.


This war is in my veins

pouring blood over my soul,

death will be a blessing to me.

To forget what I have seen

to forget this madness in life.


 I who greet the trains of hope.

Greet the innocent,

to take its place upon this cross,

and I will give them a lonely smile

for that is all that is left of me.




These faces of oblivion

who come with laughter,

soon cower before the sounds of war.

Their throats now choked

with the dry mouth of fear.


And I shall not dare too close

to this bloom of spring,

for my memory is full of ghosts.


We shall share a cigarette

politely sanitize our existence

with stories from home.

Quietly taking some comfort

from the guns now gorging on German blood.


 For I wish not to see them alive

and “ laddie” always remembers,

do not let them see your fear.


The cold dew of dawn is growing anxious

It beading anoints my head

for it is the only thing that is pure

in my life.


The first rays of light eat into my eyes

revealing the man.

A gaunt child locked out of God’s grace,

for fear belongs to us all.


The mark of death dances one more time

In the steam of morning breathe

hoping for that final kiss,

and I shiver before its presence.


Though these boys that I take

can never know.

That just beyond their gaze

lies the guns that have taken

the voices before them.


The sound of the whistle

Calls once again

tomorrow the faces will change

and their passing will be

a journey into my memory.


A generation cut down in sacrifice,

a rose for every victim.

But the cold white marble

cannot hide the stories

for every family has one.


Church bells ring your victory

of widows who lost their men

and of the flowers of summer,

cut down from mother’s lap.


Leave the silent streets to the swallows

to carry their voices back

to a time of peace.


For time has left us a faded photograph

Of Granddads journey done

Who went to sleep long ago.


Time in her mercy took his memory,

to join the untold stories

Of the boys we never knew.


All lost in Flanders field

but still guarded jealously

by the swallows who fly free

over the peace that you

 gave to me.





Submitted: July 18, 2013

© Copyright 2023 steven cooke. All rights reserved.

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