Tuesday poem: Hoppy

August 13, 2012


One-legged plastic soldier lying on the footpath,
un-mourned victim of sand-pits and tree-houses,
imaginary scratch Iraqs of a childhood’s backyard.
Those battles are not what downed you, left you
bereft on naked concrete (though the single limb
speaks of skirmishes with WMD shears).
No, you lost the fight with years, as your Generals
grew away from you, took to iPods, booze or blogs;
left your moulded games of rigidity behind.
You stand to ever-lasting attention
(or would with one more prop)
but there’s no one to salute or shoot,
and your tall castles of Lego have toppled into bins.
Hoppy leans upon a book now
and recounts the days gone by
like a thousand wounded soldiers in
a thousand wounded bars.
Fodder for the poets; soldiers plastic,
soldiers fleshy, forgotten by their masters
tell such abbreviated tales.

P.S. Cottier

imagine one less leg

I found a one-legged toy soldier, who can’t stand up, and that inevitably led to poetry.

I don’t know if there’ll be any more poems about war posted on Tuesday poem this week. Click this feather, which is not that of a dove, to find out:
Tuesday Poem

6 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Hoppy”

  1. And when the ship pulled into Circular Quay
    I looked at the place where me legs used to be
    And thank Christ there was no one there waiting for me
    To grieve and to mourn and to pity

    And the band played Waltzing Matilda
    When they carried us down the gangway
    Oh nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared
    Then they turned all their faces away

    – Eric Bogle, quoted in tribute to this fine poem.

  2. pscottier said

    Young men’s lives being ruined by older men in charge. Seems to be a constant in human history. Now of course, there are a (very few) women in charge, and we may see women killed in battle as well. Progress is hopping along at a great pace.

  3. Enjoyed this poem, Penelope. I’m struck by the plural, “Generals.” Multiple owners? Poet siblings? So much depends on to whom these little toys belong, who discovers them, at what age, and the context in which they’re used. One such “abbreviated tale:”

    When I was 15 and living in California, a school friend of mine told me about an April Fool’s joke his mother had played on him. Apparently, when he sat down for his morning breakfast, his mother was waiting there at the table, barely able to contain a smile.

    Suspicious, he began slowly eating his eggs and his toast — no problem — but when he took a sip of his orange juice, he felt the prick of something strange against his upper lip. His mother, in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, had come up with the idea of secretly placing a little yellow plastic Indian, a toy he used to play with as a child, in her son’s juice glass.

    The Indian had floated to the surface and the sharp tip of its plastic headdress was stabbing my friend’s intruding lip. I’ve always liked the image, uniquely American, the plastic yellow Indian in the breakfast orange juice. I also like the idea of the mother weighing up her creativity — a brilliant prank? Or a choking hazard? Gag or…gag. I see her at the table thrilled at her own mischief — as the Indian is now placed dripping beside her incredulous son’s breakfast plate. That’s it, mom? A little plastic toy in my orange juice? That’s your prank? -Z

    • pscottier said

      I love the way that the Indian was disguised, nay camouflaged, in that supremely Californian drink. But OJ has a way of being more deadly than we had thought…Thank you for this Zireaux!

  4. Harvey said

    It’s always a pleasure to read your blog, Penelope.

  5. pscottier said

    Thank you Harvey! I particularly like the videos on yours. I am far too much of a Luddite (in the ahistorical, just hating technology for no good reason sense that we use that word) to embed video myself. And you have to pay for that with WordPress, I think.

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