Tag Archives: war

Leonid

There
Amsterdam and Leonid turns up at a friends house
with a case of ikons and art
new identity papers
no longer a Russian
but a proud Ukrainian
selling treasure for hard currency
to build a country
 
When
we traipsed with him around dealers and auction houses
awkward in an unfamiliar world
waiting for bona fides to be checked
deals to be made
 
Now
I wonder where you are my friend
cannot understand how it came to this
how dreams shatter
conceptions of nationhood crack
peace shatters into sharp fatal shards

Copyright © 2022 Kim Whysall-Hammond

In the gardens and the fields

Over twenty years after the end
gardens still had hollow mounds
or curved corrugated tin domes half buried
some doing duty as tool sheds
many simply as they were
when the bombing stopped
full of the detritus of nights spent sheltering
while death flew overhead

Mounds and tunnels  riddled
our playing fields
dry brick-lined hiding places
against bombers seeking factories
and factory workers
to blast and wreck
we used them  for massive games of hide and seek

London streets had many gaps
festooned with stately spires of
purple flowers, amid mossy rubble
the occasional crumpled saucepan
so much broken crockery

As a child, my father collected bullets and bomb shards
watched fighters fall crashing out of the sky
and ran to collect souvenirs while the metal was still hot

I and my brothers knew wars last remnants
and played amongst ghosts

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Bjorn is the host at dVerse, and is asking for poetry about war. Thankfully I have no direct experience. This poem is a slight re-write of one I wrote a while ago.

In the gardens and the fields

Over twenty years after the end
gardens still had hollow mounds
or curved corrugated tin domes half buried
some doing duty as tool sheds
many simply as they were
when the bombing stopped
full of the detritus of nights spent sheltering
while death flew overhead

Mounds and tunnels  riddled
our playing fields
dry brick-lined hiding places
against bombers seeking factories
and factory workers
to blast and wreck
we used them  for massive games of hide and seek

London streets had gaps, play spaces
festooned with stately spires of
purple flowers, amid mossy rubble
the occasional crumpled saucepan
so much broken crockery

As a child, our father collected bullets and bomb shards
watched fighters fall crashing out of the sky
and ran to collect souvenirs while the metal was still hot

I and my brothers knew wars last remnants
and played amongst ghosts

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond

In Memoriam

Friday poem: The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

by Rupert Brookes

For Rememberance Sunday

Friday poem: On Seeing A Piece Of Our Artillery Brought Into Action

Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
Great gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
And beat it down before its sins grow worse;
Spend our resentment, cannon,–yea, disburse
Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.

Yet, for men’s sakes whom thy vast malison
Must wither innocent of enmity,
Be not withdrawn, dark arm, thy spoilure done,
Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!

 

Forefathers

One walked into shellfire for a mile
and a half
to check if a barbed wire barrier
was now holed

One fought Ottomans in Salonika
and fought again in the next war that burnt Europe

One built underground factories,
and stood at the end of a
bombed and burning street
mourning

We tell their great grandchildren,
watch them weep,
while grateful that
in most of Europe
war is distant

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Each of our Grandfathers survived their wars, but my Aunt lost an fiancé — one of the many American GI’s killed on D-Day.

Forefathers

One walked into shellfire for a mile
and a half
to check if a barbed wire barrier
was now holed

One built underground factories,
and stood at the end of a
bombed and burning street
mourning

One fought Ottomans in Salonika
and fought again in the next war that burnt Europe

We tell their great grandchildren,
watch them weep,
while grateful that
in most of Europe
war is distant

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Each of our Grandfathers survived their wars, but my Aunt lost an fiancé — one of the many American GI’s killed on D-Day.

Friday Poem: Epitaph on an army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
Follow’d their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth’s foundations stay;
What God abandon’d, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

by A.E. Housman (1860-1936)

To me, this poem is evocative of all those who do the dirty work for the rest of us. It is a WW1 poem, but also  applies, I feel, to all those who fought in WW2, specifically to my  Grandfather who fought in both world wars and his children:  my Uncle who defended India, my Godmother who repaired Spitfires under enemy fire  and her sister who manned (womanned?) the Barrage Balloons during the London Blitz. Plus my other Aunt’s American fiance who died at D-Day and all the young American boys my teenage mother danced with during the long wait for D-Day, and who she cried for as they left one night to take back Europe.

The mercenaries in this poem are actually the ‘Old Contemptibles’, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) of 1914— the professional British army before the rush of volunteers. The BEF was sent to France in 1914 to fight against the Germans.

Farm

My rolling road smooths over the hills
reveals a distant farm house
hazy gray, huddled in trees
we roll on and the farm folds away
gone into green.
As it did
when Vikings rode past
hunting for spoils, women and food
when the Revenue came later
searching for tax payers.

This land is ancient
holdings forged millennia ago
only when warfare encompassed the air
was this farms safety broached.
Yet bombers passed over to pit and hole
to blast and burn
the farm house remained
snuggled into the land.
Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Edited from a version published here in June 2016