I took a turn to run the Macclesfield Creative Writing Group workshop this afternoon and chose to concentrate on the new month and its associations with the past, particularly the Armistice Centenary. Thomas Hood’s “No!” and Carol Ann Duffy’s “The Wound in Time”, spanning 200+ years, made an excellent starting point, followed by an alphabet of prompts, one of which led me to write:-
Almost Quiet on the Western Front
A hundred years from now, I’ll freely take a punt,
some bloke’ll say, “All was quiet on t’Western Front.
11th. November, hostilities will close
and we’ll be friends again, not bayonet-wielding foes.”
Both sides are drained, exhausted. No-one gives a damn,
desperate to get home to warm tea, fresh bread, roast lamb
– and Jerry will head back for sauerkraut and schnitzel.
I wouldn’t touch the stuff, but I’m damned sure Fritz will –
and to see the missus and the kids, to walk where trees
aren’t stark and crippled skeletons, devoid of leaves,
where zephyrs kiss the topmost boughs and nesting birds
roost safe where cosy, verdant canopy engirds.
One final foray for the sarge. Lads, here we go.
No bullets got my name on. Crouch down, head low,
then home to Blighty, sure as eggs is eggs.
What was it all about the question begs:
four years of endless, unrequited, nightmare hell,
entrenched, entombed, endured, spent listening for that shell.