0121 4 A.M.11 November 1918

A still night; crescent moon; the faintest breeze.
Some wit might say, 'Peaceful, innit, Tommy? '
Two hours before the usual time for attack.
I wonder what they've got up their sleeve for today.
A bit too quiet right now, I'd say

Careful how you breathe or talk
this chilly night, out there in the open trench;
frozen breath will draw the sniper's rifle sight

The sharp nose of some human terrier
passing over the familiar smells -
cordite, rifle oil, linseed for the wooden butt, the stench of death,
yesterday's corpses half submerged -
may detect, just over there, the unmistakeable smell
of fierce French 'Caporal' cigarettes;
there in front, strong German 'Zeppelins';
round here, cheap Woodbines linger in the air

hardly a human difference
worth fighting over.

by Michael Shepherd

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