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Monday 30 January 2012


A soldier to his fingertips,
not once had he considered
some other role in life. He'd done it all
in various arenas round the world:
Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf; had even been
a prisoner of war in some foul jail.
Now here he is on guard outside a country house!
Life is on the downturn. Gone too tame.
O.K., the house is something special,
but even so, not his idea of soldiering -
looking after top brass. Interrupting him,
his thoughts, a limo' stops a few yards off,
the general's pennant flying from the bonnet.
Even from his distance he can see
the car is full of them. Medals enough
to sink a battleship. Unusual though,
for generals at this hour. They say
he would have seen the flash. The last
he would have seen before the blackness
claimed him for its own. Unheard of until then:
seven of them in one car. Extravagant, to say
the least. The house was totally destroyed,
a ruined shell. But still he comes
each night at his appointed hour
to guard the space where was the little
wicket gate before the bomb went off.
He's always there
regardless of the latest moves in government,
regardless of what standing orders are in place.
His family still visit him, still comatosed
in the infirmary, still partly of this world
and partly of another. Ever the soldier, he.


jabblog said...

Duty above self, always.

Mary said...

Following old orders.

Tabor said...

Nightmares and dreams.

Other Mary said...

Oh Dave :o(
We really need to find a better way to run this old mud ball.

The Weaver of Grass said...

There is a moral in there somewhere Dave but not sure what it is. Love the poem though - as usuall fantastic images.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

A former soldier myself, I am thinking "duty" when I read this.

Laurie Kolp said...

Powerful piece on the ultimate dedication... enjoyed it, Dave!

Brian Miller said...

ugh...def...always the soldier...reminds me of that old metallica video...

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Powerful and mesmerising once more...and it makes me feel a bit a confused in your narration: has he been maybe blown off himself and is his ghost there?
But maybe on the county house is just juxtaposed a memory of his of another blown off house?

In this last case it reminds me of a glorious poem by Heaney in the collection "The Spirit Level", the poem "Two Lorries" that I imagine you have read because once you mentioned another poem from the same collection.

S.E.Ingraham said...

What a profoundly disturbing poem - wonderfully written with great imagery and sub-texts galore; is this where proud soldiers go to slowly die? I will be thinking about this poem for some time - wondering ...

Cloudia said...

This might be incised on a plinth in the very center of a thoughtful, grateful city-

Warm Aloha from Waikiki, Dear Dave
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

MianTariq said...

Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them.
--Napoleon Bonaparte--

But, after retirement many soldiers live with horror memories.

Dave King,
Very well worded poem.

Windsmoke. said...

When duty calls you must obey :-).

Carl said...

Sad and moving. How far the world has moved from duty and honor. It was once the norm and not the exception.

Dave King said...

Of course!

When routine becomes habit.

Yes, but whose nightmare?

Other Mary
I totally agree.

The Weaver of Grass
Yes, maybe there's a moral there, not a conscious one, though. Maybe I should try to dig it out!

Seems a reasonable reaction. A warm welcome to you. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Many thanks.

Ah, yes! Think I see...

I perfectly understand the confusion. It's me playing with two ideas at the same time.
Firstly, it has often occurred to me that the ability to bi-locate is one that is not often used in tales of the supernatural, yet it seems to me that it has a lot to offer. Secondly I had the thought of the ghost of someone who was not yet dead. These two came together as a sort of immaterial bi-location - and as I didn't have any other ideas yesterday...

S. E. Ingraham
Welcome to my blog and many thanks for your helpful comment. It's good to have your company. Not quite how it was envisaged... please see the reply to Tommaso above.

Wow! (or is it Oooo-er?) What a thought! Your comment is incised on the mind of a grateful would-be poet.

tariq mian
Precisely. Thanks for this response.

Indeed. Thanks agagin.

So far, even in the short span of my lifetime.

chiccoreal said...

Bi-location is quite a phenomenal poem, haunting and apocalpticryptic.