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Monday, 10 October 2011

How I helped to win the War

'I cannot stay to tea!' I cried,
whisked in through A and E
past sterilizers, stainless steel
that steamed like mother's pots at home -
I really hadn't time:
two armies poised for war, I'd left;
huns hunkered down among my sheets,
the allies ranged on Eider Down.
The stretcher was a magic rug,
but how was I to know
I'd pass a cushy war, laid back -
and most of it in bed?

I had expected gas attacks
(Dad warned of oxygen);
but with the ward a makeshift barracks
(itself a crafty ploy)
I tested secret weapons -
which even nurses, though they brought
those weapons to me, didn't know.
They'd bring me two huge bell jars
joined by rubber tubes,
one filled with purple liquid
or pink or startling green.
Then through another tube I'd blow
the secret fluids jar to jar.
And from those deadly juices
brave back room boys - like me! -
would conjure up the victories,
unsung, unknown, unseen.

18 comments:

Elisabeth said...

What a wonderful poem, Dave, so evocative of childhood, of boyhood and of how to transform the horrors of war into a game of sorts. I enjoy the rhythm of this piece, too. I find it playful, but with sombre poignant layers beneath.

Jim Murdoch said...

Particularly enjoyed the punch line. Should it not be 'conjure' rather than 'conjured' by the way?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Like it Dave. Also like your new format, which is so much easier to read.

kaykuala said...

One of the back room boys, unsung and unknown? Intriguing Dave!

Hank

Isabel Doyle said...

I think I've read about your soldiers before - nice to find them in another battle.

Even a boy, yet to grow into his poethood, might know those secret conjurings would help.

Carl said...

That imagination that is so amazing now was serving you well even back then.

Brian Miller said...

dude...excellent...i remember days of plotting and carrying out wars...your invention too sounds of one we might create as well....nice...

Lolamouse said...

"Brave back room boys" is a great line, Dave! This poem has so many wonderful images in it. I, too, like your new format. Much easier for us older folk to read!

sunny said...

Hi Mr Dave nice poem.keep it up.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Great poem with in particular the final two lines, I feel very close to this "conjuring up" this kind of victories.
A feeling I often had as a child in moments of loneliness... strangely rewarding and which now, in the present, are instead almost impossible to find back.

Windsmoke. said...

Those were the days of my childhood playing war games in the bedroom :-).

Christine said...

Ahhh what a place one's bed it when one is a boy-child!!! All those rifts and valleys tempered by another real purpose.

vampireweather said...

A compelling story so well crafted...I found your diversity of verse style and wording refreshing. Invoking memories of my childhood coupled with the real thing...great work!

Dave King said...

Elisabeth
Yes, I find the memories now much as you describe, bu this was actually Christmas '38. However, you are correct in what you say, for the war, when it came, was a huge opportunity for my friends and I to play. It opened up all sorts of avenues, from collecting shrapnel after a raid to imagining various local "characters" as spies or agents. Thank you for your comments, they are very pertinent to the thinking that went into this.

Jim
Thanks for the hint. Yes, it should have been "conjure" and now is.

The Weaver of Grass
Thanks for the reflection on the format. Helpful to know.

Dave King said...

kaykuala
I had other roles as well - mostly heroic!

Isabel
You well might have read of them before. I did way back post a much longer poem which told the story of that Christmas - but didn't mention the bell jars, for instance. The soldiers got a mention in both dispatches.

Carl
Partly it was I think that I had a lot of illness and a lot of bed time and was thrown back upon my inner resources, such as they were.

Brian
Thanks for that. Unfortunately it didn't get me to go home that day!

Lolamouse
Much thanks for those bits of feedback. All very useful and appreciated.

sunny
Will try to do so!

Tommaso
It sounds as though our childhoods had a lot in common.

Windsmoke
Yes, I can't recall that I very often played them in bed, but I certainly had been on that occasion.

Christine
Hi, thanks for the comment. Yes, indeed. I can recall tunnelling under the sheets, swimming underwater and just exploring.

vampireweather
Hi, a warm welcome to you. Thanks for the comments. All grist to the mill!

unsungpoet said...

I like it!

Mary said...

Dave, I am sorry I am behind in commenting. A few busy days. I loved this poem, as it reminded me of my own childhood. I was sick quite a bit, spent time in bed, and I too had my own wars going on. Mostly cowboys and Indians though. Beneath the sheets. I love visiting your blog

jabblog said...

It was a good way to pass time in unpleasant circumstances. 'the ward a makeshift barracks' - and just as bleak, no doubt.