A Stroke of Luck

… he spotted a white rose, a real beauty.

(One from my archive).

white rose

The flowers
in the vase next to his bed
were a riot of colours.
Some pink, some red,
but in the middle of the bunch
he spotted a white rose,
a real beauty.
He picked it and gave it
to the nurse on duty.
A small token, he said,
for taking care of me.
It wasn’t much of a reward
as he well knew.
Among the many in the ward
he was one of the few
to have come out unscathed.
It had become the norm
to hear of yet another body
being added to the tally,
in Helmand province.
He put on the uniform,
he’d worn at the battle scene.
It had been cleaned
but a dark stain could still be seen
where the bullet had struck,
missing the main artery
by a fraction.
It was a stroke of luck
that he had survived.
He felt no bitterness, nor ire.
He had been hit, after all,
by friendly fire.

© Luigi Pagano 2010


© ionicus 2023
critique and comments welcome.
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War is a nasty thing Luigi, I remember it well…


A realistic word picture, Luigi, very well constructed. Can almost smell the hospital anaesthetic. Not sure how he escaped unscathed since he was hit by friendly fire?


I have read this a few times now Luigi and I think the matter of factness of the way it’s written and language is a real strength. I have, if I may two suggestions one would be to remove the reference to Helmand specifically and also drop the last two lines. A purely personal opinion of course and one you or anyone else may not agree with…Leila x


Absolutely get that the poem is most specific to the two so rightly you wouldn’t change it, I was thinking more of the universal nature of war and how the rest of the poem is an observation on war and those who survived however as you say you are writing about a specific incident and I think the poem very relevant and a fine write…Leila x

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