Day-tripping The Trenches

In a broad sense this actually happened to me, I think…

His hard, dry, muddy surface broke
to crack a savage smile
as he leaned upon his rifle
like a watchman at the gates.
Then he pointed down a greensward line
of duckboard pave’d trench.
Cocked an ear to hear
the laughter of his mates.

As I moved along the covert path,
the verdant verdure died;
and chirping finch
gave way to whistling shell.
Maudlin ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’
turned to ‘Burn Baby Burn’.
Leaving Heaven’s Door
become The Gates of Hell.

So I huddled in a muddle,
with a puddle at my feet.
Felt the ancient god of battles
kiss my brow.
Fought a sudden urge to purge myself,
just kept my insides in,
crying ‘mother hold me
in your safe arms now.’

This was meant to be a field trip.
Added colour to my book.
Not an exercise in Nemesis
for boys.
Yet malevolence and violence
kill the obsequies of silence.
Throwing earth
in awful shovelfuls of noise.

Surging round a sandbagged corner,
I ran into men I knew.
My creations, out of figment,
birthed for death.
So well-written, now hard-bitten
faced the beast and stood the test.
Looking old my slaughtered children,
faint corruption on their breath.

The enigma was the stigma.
Each child carried one the same.
Neath their battledress
there hung a loop of bowel.
Tripes that fall from youthful stomachs
sliding over bayonet blades.
Kneeling deep in blood and water
I lift up my head and howl.

Running mad from my creations
My young host, his pose a picture,
used to sell a news
That’s so far from the truth,
stood there waiting smile intact.
Same stigmata, bowel splatter,
muddy blood-stained, tattered martyr;
emblematic of our sacrifice of youth.

© Jim Archibald 



© Jim Archibald

© franciman 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Quite brilliant Jim, too many great lines to mention them all. Considering the content, ” running mad from my creations” seems appropriate.
Congrats on the Nib, please allow me to nominate to go with it.


Absolutely brilliant.


I had to stop halfway to catch my breath.. Nearly every line hit home!
I liked the occasional use of allitertion; all of it well placed; none of it forced; all of it telling!
Poetry both inspirational and aspirational

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