A Military Matter

by | May 26, 2009 | Poetry | 0 comments

Grey sheets spat,
cobbles beamed
They marched, he hung between:
a scuffed, bloodied bundle of broken tomorrows;
face etched in torture’s scrawl;
chest chickened;
untested manhood stripped;
torn top mind-blown with fragments,
half-remembered sticky strands;
deep and hidden plans.
Bravery’s beaten friend.

They scragged him out,
boots catching the cobbles
like leaden hammers clipping,
tripping his final drag.

Dripping lattice green
hung fretfully
anticipating warmth
on the season’s cusp.

He dribbled;
feet encrusted;
bright promise
once spread ‘cross football fields and valleys
foul-running to impress the moment’s mistress
Masculinity marinated;
handsome youth humbled.

Six brown-clad striplings duty ingrained,
flush with myths of the military machine,
the chosen of their county,
strutted ‘longside,
arrogance stewed in martial certainty,
buoyant boyish beliefs
buried in brutality’s bounty.

They stuck the heap in a chair.
Courtesy there.
Ironic after the night’s partying
over his body
when teeth cawed the floor
and flesh rutted raw
smoothed the cracks.

Last words?
they scoffed.
He shook
then coughed
a sneering mutter.
As if the ravaged ridge beyond the slash
could audibly utter.
He oozed, spat scum and stank.
No point in upright
or gathering the bits into a whole.
They’d burst his body
even his soul
hung by a tatter.
Didn’t matter he’d held.
Courage eaten raw
still fails to fill the belly.

A scatter of nosy squawkers
fired their farewell honours
preparatory to the real thing.

He waved aside the blind,
half-faced them
with his mess
of filleted flesh.

From somewhere far beyond
the volley bellowed
then mellowed
into the hush above.
A moment’s unwary silence,
a flatulent gasp.
Someone had won,
hadn’t they?
The file would say.

So much of the present
sucked into the past;
in a single blast.

And then the birds returned.


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