Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Time Gentlemen Please (4th August 2014)

They're lighting candles in grand
cathedrals and respectful homes
for those who fought in that "Great"
war one hundred years ago.

But are burning candles what young
Tommy Atkins would have craved?
If he'd not found a place in some
poppy covered Flanders grave
but instead returned from war
to his country village, market town?
Would he not have rather limped
the darkly nettled lane on down
to the Red Lion, the Kings Head,
Horses - Black and White,
and drunk his share of ale and cider
on this warm August night?

He might have looked out at the fields,
thought about the harvest due,
cursed the pigeons for their fill,
and planned his snares for rabbit stew.

But as young Tommy can't be here
to drink that beer and hear the talk
I'll forsake a candle in my home
and down the winding lane I'll walk.
Our voices hushed and lights dimmed,
we'll drink for Tommy Atkins
and all lost soldiers such as him
- who would but can't - a pint of ale
(and one of cider just in case),
and drain the glass at 11.01
when the landlord quietly says:
"In foreign fields their work was done,
our country lads are sleeping well,
all honours high, their battles won,
their memory forever held -
may they rest at ease.
                                   For them and us:
it's Time, Gentlemen, please."

Published in OWF Press 'Half Moon' Pub related poetry anthology 6/10/16

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