War Poets

Prussian nights, Mediterranean afternoons:
the golden age of war moved about,  
west to east, north to south.
The poets followed and walked among the grey 
battalions of men who couldn’t explain 
the whys and the wherefores 
of the war when war poets ran out of rhymes.  
What they saw they saw in monochrome – 
the snows of Serbia, a morning fog 
that kept on thinning on the Somme. 
What they wrote they wrote in smoke,  
the names of places strange to them, 
poems that were last testaments. 
What they heard they heard 
through the antiphon of artillery on both sides  
and in the holes they hunkered in 
saw dead pals still giving the thumbs-up sign.

From The Sundays of Eternity, Dedalus Press, 2020

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