Poem Hunter
Trench Warfare
(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

Trench Warfare

From trench to trench
You followed me, to speed
My penance at the midnight hour of life,
Once all was lost, and mine the greater need
You came again, to gloat, and turn the knife.

It’s always been the same
A thrust, then grief;
A few yards forward, then dig in, and damn the cost,
We worried at the borders of belief
To count advantage first, but never loss!

I can’t remember peace,
There’s never been
A time for me when war was not the game,
Each word a bullet, spat from lips that screamed;
You drank your deadly cocktails, then took aim.

‘Til I was sorely wounded,
Sick at heart,
And pounded by the mortars of your mind;
I slept in foxholes, waking with a start
To seek relief in silence, marking time.

While tanks, like thunder
Rolled across my soul
To leave their shadow-tracks upon my brain,
My thoughts were camouflaged, and left untold,
I worked at night, while you explored your pain.

I lost my way, as if
I’d ever known
The forward from the back, the bleak terrain
That you and I once conquered, then disowned
Has left me not a landmark I could claim.

And so to this, the shadow
That at night
Will beckon me toward some ancient death,
When life has lost its paltry appetite
And I, the walking wounded, give it breath.

12 February 1991

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