I watched the burials in the cemetery overlooking Ajax Bay,
grieved with their companions; thought of families far away.
There is a lonelier ground than this, so I’ve heard tell,
but where was it to be found? Nowhere this side of Hell.
T.V and newspapers have proclaimed the fighting’s glory,
for us down there it was a different tale; a truer story
of men, not all young, who fought and survived
their unlucky comrades-at-arms who have died.
How to account for each precious life taken away –
is it enough to recall that they did their duty this day?
Tell it so to those families who, in desolation and sorrow,
have given up yesterday’s light for a black tomorrow.
Tell it to men dead in the mud or floating in the sea
but for Christ’s sake don’t try and tell that to me.
Ships sunk; aircraft down; men missing, believed dead
good viewing on the nightly news before the Nation goes to bed.
But our news was relief at another day seen through
with hopes that the coming night’s fears were survivable, too.
“Hit the deck, hit the deck” is the loudspeaker’s awful call
as we scramble from sleep to the “Action Stations” alarm thrall.
Snapshots of one’s life flash past –
grab a breath and wonder if it could be the last.
“You survived, you came home” the disbelieving voices cried,
“what of the real heroes who did not return, those who died?”
“True” my friends, “no scars to show and our faces are unlined;
but, oh, if only you could feel the wounds gaping in our minds”.
“Would you fight again?” ask the silent whispers of the night,
As I try to forget the apocalyptic visions which are a blight
on my peace. Yes, oh yes, when others of my blood have lost
their freedom, their way of life; and not to count the cost.
War-broken bodies were healed, returned to a normality:
ravaged pysches festered unseen in their distorted reality.
Two hundred and fifty-five men did not return victorious from this war;
Twenty-some years on and lonely suicides have doubled that score.