Monday, 31 March 2008

War poems

Hi, My flow of poems continues. I blame my visit to India which released something (the poet?) in me. I have written about my Dad's Second World War stories two or three times before. Once as a comment piece in The Friend and more recently as an article in The Friends Quarterly. And as part of a special issue of the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling which I edited devoted to Counselling and Armed Conflict. (I can send copies of these pieces to anyone who wants them.)


The German plane dived low
Over your ship
And the deadly sound of its guns began
"It's you or me mate"
And you followed your training
And fired back
A lifetime of Christianity
of pacifism
Vanished from your soul

The grieving began later.


Another time you shot down the deadly plane
And fished the German pilot from the sea
He was unconscious half dead
You ordered your men to save him
They tried for half an hour
They failed

"We're sailors we rescue people from the sea
It might be our turn next"
You told me in a strange explanation
Of death and attempted resurrection.


You were in a bar
In Greece
With your ship mates
The poverty of war
Has made the local girls
Loose and desperate
You find them attractive
But you have a wife at home
But that does not seem to trouble
the vicar
But he is only messing around
And not serious
You give the girl the loose change from your pocket
She is ready for you
But you decline
She looks at you with her Greek serious eyes
"Where are you going?"
"Tomorrow Salonika"
She knows mines, bombs, machine guns
"I'll pray for you"

[ The man with no faith left
Meets a young woman
With faith to spare
And faith is restored by an act of charity.]


My mother is with you
On board ship
Against the rules
And then the air raid begins
You man the guns
And my mother is enlisted
As gunner's mate

It's told as a big joke later
But what if
What if
What if my mother had died?

How would you have lived?


The War is over
But the fighting and the dying continues
And the refugees flee in boats
You patrol the sea lanes of Greece
And come across
A boatload of refugees
mostly women and children
Your sailors raid the ship's stores
And hand over
Bread and food for the hungry.


I've told and re-told
Your stories
I weep over them
I am no nearer an understanding
No nearer to any kind of peace
You did that which you had to do.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Cyprus poem


Biking with the sun in my eyes, sheer bliss after some much rain and wind and so grateful to be alive and well. I had a phone call from Dada last week. This amused my daughter Grace no end. Dada is the monk at Ananda Marga where I go for yoga and he rang to tell me that the classes were beginning. Bliss.

Cycling to work through Alexander Park a poem came to me:

Cyprus poem (For Dori and Fenia)

You came to me
from a war torn land
from different sides
of a bloody and awful conflict

You had stories of horrors to tell me
But struggled to hear one another

I loved you both
But I couldn't reconcile you

if you could not live in truth and peace and love
What hope was there for your divided country?