Poppy Appeal 01

by | Nov 20, 2006 | Poetry | 0 comments

“I’ve already got a poppy,” they say
Or they say nothing and look away.
Hours spent people-watching,
The smiling greeting,
A few words communicate –
Coins in the box advocate
A course of action
Against one of inaction:
To remember the fallen
And comfort those who remain.
Music, the crotchety refrain,
Quavers and other notes taken.

“I’ve got a poppy,
I bought it last week!”
Some say and nod and smile
And hurry away.
Others open their purse or wallet
And empty it into my tin
And ask nothing in return.
The rest, the other 80%,
May be provoked or prodded
Into putting a few pence in my tin.

“Can I have a poppy?”
“Can I have a flower?”
And they tug at a parent
Or gran or grandad.
In that pull or push
A little force, barely felt,
That urges a little payment
To please a child –
One who barely understands
The world of their life
And retains their innocence
And happy inexperience.
Perhaps the parent knows
Someone in the forces
Or has relatives who fought,
Perhaps they have felt
The grief of a loved one’s death.
Perhaps they pay to quiet
A thought more than a noisy child.

She says, “Got one in the car!”
Glares and walks away
As though to say,
‘How dare you ask me to pay’.

One poppy, one poppy only,
“Wear it with pride?”
Wear it to show you’ve paid.
One poppy to last a year
Or will it last two or three
And show you’ve ‘paid’?

Ask the man with ribbons
On his chest what he did;
If you are wise you’ll hear
Him say, “I survived.”
He bought his poppies
Serving his Country
And continues to serve
Them, all his days.
In memory, he remembers
The days of youth,
The days of strength
When youth grew up
And a survivor blossomed.
He picked his poppies
On the battlefields
Of The Great War
And Afghanistan and Iraq.

Year by year we stand
And fight for our country;
Politics by other means?
A failure to talk,
A failure to understand,
Political failure.

So now we fight
In Iraq and Afghanistan –
Lessons of Mesopotamia
Forgotten like the 19th century
Battles with the Pathan.

The public think that we
Remember two world wars only,
But we remember all wars
Where our volunteers are.

We care for ten and a half million people,
The warriors and their families:
One sixth of the population –
How many do you care for?

One poppy, one poppy, one little poppy,
“I bought one last week…”


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