I won’t hang around, old pal – recite
a time-worn prayer; join with officers
and comrades all, to weep, dry-eyed,
at your grave; justify a war
you never believed in.
“I ask you. What finer way to die
than as a hero?
Rest in peace – he who gave his life
for queen and country.
Our hearts, go out, of course,
to his wife and family.”
Soft-hearted sod that he was; blown to bits
by a crippled, basket-laden donkey
and tear-filled, innocent eyes...
So, if it’s OK with you, I’m out of here.
Sure to find you by the bookstall
at Old Street Station, or in the queue
for whatever’s on at the Adelphi.
Failing that, I’ll grab a coffee
and a sandwich, at the café
on the corner by the news-stand.
Bound to catch you there.
Boyish grin – corkscrew hair;
mirrored in the window... the more I stare.
Forgive me, if I decline to do
what protocol dictates, discharge
my mandatory duty; throw rosebuds
on your flag-draped coffin.
No disrespect intended...
Because, from this garden of stone,
you are long-since flown; to the place
we’d fish in the lee of the willow;
no sound, save the swish of eucalyptus.
And the cicada’s tympani
sounds its sad, sweet elegy
by the bend on Muddy River.