This is for anyone who fought, is fighting, will fight.
|We. The walking wounded,
left to crawl and limp
and claw our way back,
on a winding forced retreat.
A bitter stream of humanity,
some limbless, some limping,
some held mute with futility,
we share a sodden smoke,
sitting squatting swearing in the filth,
brothers and sisters in arms beneath,
the mud and the blood and the weeping sky,
we wear our wounds like stigmata blooms.
Pushed to one side of the road,
we make way for reinforcements,
still flowing freely to the front,
“It’s not as bad as it looks”,
“Just keep your head down”,
their scared but smiling faces remind us,
of who and what and how we once were,
before we faced an unwinnable war.
Down there in the trenches,
we conspired over bitter coffee,
and still more bitter smokes,
discussed attacks, thrusts and feints,
the campaigns waged and lost:
Zoloft, Efexor, Aropax,
Cipramil, Ritalin, Serapax.
These names and more, signposts,
signals, semaphore, a code,
shared by soldiers on the front,
unknown by those yet to fight,
or those who believe we don’t fight at all,
that we wish our wars upon ourselves,
with the flick of a switch (or slash of the wrist),
our armistice would be more cheaply won,
And now, almost in the rear,
a glance back at blackened fields,
miles of worn, weary faces still stream to the horizon,
an eternal briefness of eye contact,
& we share a lifetime of suffering,
we know and we understand,
and we empathise beyond words,
we almost smile.
We will bear no bright ribbons,
we will wear no bronze medals,
left to whisper the names of the fallen,
and recall conflicts almost lost,
we will hold dear these dark times,
and the battlegrounds we survived,
and hope and pray and sometimes fear,
this is the war to end all wars.