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:
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Mental cases

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,
Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ tongues wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain, – but what slow panic,
Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hand palms
Misery swelters. Surely we have perished
Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

– These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished.
Memory fingers in their hair of murders,
Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.
Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,
Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
Always they must see these things and hear them,
Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,
Carnage incomparable and human squander
Rucked too thick for these men’s extrication.

Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented
Back into their brains, because on their sense
Sunlight seems a bloodsmear; night comes blood-black;
Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh
– Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous,
Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.
– Thus their hands are plucking at each other;
Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging;
Snatching after us who smote them, brother,
Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.

Wilfred Owen

the building in the back fills the one in the front

And on ANZAC day, 25th April, let’s not forget that we still send young men (and women now, too) over to do the dirty work for us all; or at least in our countries’ names. I would like to see Australia’s troops only here for the defence of Australia, and fuck the geopolitics. But it’s usually old men (and the occasional middle aged woman) who make the decisions that cost young men their lives or sanity.

Not to mention the civilians, who have no special day of remembrance. It’s appropriate to remember the dead, but it would make more sense if we didn’t take actions that guarantee that we are making more of them.

Click the black feather to go to the Tuesday poetry hub in the country that contributed the rest of the ANZACs.

Tuesday Poem