Passchendaele, Passion's Knell Triple Alexandrine Sonnet

Trenches turned to mud pies, by shrapnel splinters sprayed,
saw slivered steel deliver lethal lessons on the sly,
Invader, invaded, found price to pay too high.
Last gasps [g]rasped at straws, each day each day replayed.

Sight shots salvoed over, scared scarred troops who surveyed
behind barbed barricade or fox holes on the fly
dug from former comrades, gangrened flesh, bone dry,
leaden eyes grief laden, hair prematurely greyed.

Senseless slaugher seeding crass orders disobeyed
warfare's despair seeding pandemic which would weigh
casualties exceeding all previous doomsdays,
crimson beads ableeding birthed cenotaph so staid.

Munition powder sky, men cursing shell, grenade,
crossing thunderstorm with Satan's serenade,

Though Tommy would not bow to tyrant's cheap tirade,
pain reigned, bane rain burst from foul, filthy mustard sky -
six hundred thousand souls were frog-marched there to die -
few dodged sniper bullets that often ricocheted.

'Known to God', bagged untagged, few chronicles defrayed,
His_Story selective surrendered with a sigh
shaking, quaking caverns felt doom's gloom whistle by
sad Earth's secret centres soared skywards in cascade.

See meeting-point marquee, stretched canvas marked ‘First Aid',
by stretchers plagued day in day out. Parked there to die,
conscripts fought while Colonels caught some Staff advancement's eye
preparing for fiasco in 1940 played.

Shells shattered ears, hell shuttered eyes, fragile half-life decayed.
Shells scattered tears, knelled stuttered cries, crossfire made lonely maid.

The ‘Last Great War' once over, glad tidings were relayed,
victory crowns in towns cheered Palace balustrade,
most looked on in askance as Lloyd-George was hurrayed
bottled brains in Britain bragged how they'd steady stayed.

But in "land of heroes", though ranks earned accolade,
while most must meals measure, the few in leisure layed.
Some carved while soldiers starved, highlighting masquarade!

Uniforms that won fair maid were worn, drawn fringes frayed,
with chip by chip paint torn from weather-worn façade.
What hair still peeked from cap that peaked showed streaks of care woe greyed.
Instead of fragile faces, poppies bloom on parade.

One hundred years have passed, what lessons has Man learned? ...
No victory can last unless fresh ones are earned.

by Jonathan ROBIN

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