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The Eleventh Hour, of the Eleventh Day, of the Eleventh Month


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  • 9 months later...

Eva Dobell

 

 

Advent, 1916

 

 

I dreamt last night Christ came to earth again

To bless His own. My soul from place to place

On her dream-quest sped, seeking for His face

Through temple and town and lovely land, in vain.

Then came I to a place where death and pain

Had made of God's sweet world a waste forlorn,

With shattered trees and meadows gashed and torn,

Where the grim trenches scarred the shell-sheared plain.

And through that Golgotha of blood and clay,

Where watchers cursed the sick dawn, heavy-eyed,

There (in my dream) Christ passed upon His way,

Where His cross marks their nameless graves who died

Slain for the world's salvation where all day

 

For others' sake strong men are crucified.

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  • 11 months later...

Starting a new career as a teacher

 

“Have you ever killed anyone?” They ask,

with the innocent naivety of youth.

“What do you think?” I reply, smiling quietly.

But indeed, what is the truth?

 

Have I ever killed anyone? Let’s think…

 

In the dark and dusty, neon-tinted streets of Basra

I shot at men who shot at me.

But did my own fizzing tracer beat that of those who fired faster?

I doubt anyone could see.

 

Have I ever killed anyone?

 

I certainly played a part in causing their demise

by giving orders for Air to ‘drop’.

The enemy, portrayed in sepia tones through God-like eyes,

saw death’s shadow as time stopped.

 

Have I ever killed a man?

 

I cheered as the screen flashed... then showed the pall of smoke.

Grinning, I reported, “Good strike!”

More sepia men ran on... then froze. Muted cries were choked

As they stared in silent plight.

 

Have I ever killed a man?

 

I’ve called for artillery support, and AH and Air

To pound Afghan compounds ahead.

But God only knows how many lived or died up there -

They’re quick to recover their dead.

 

Have I ever killed a man?

 

How about in Mitan where the Imam wept tears of gratitude

As we provided medical support?

His son was killed by a mortar when militia attacks renewed,

In response to our involvement.

 

Have I ever killed a man?

 

The men who died beside me, or through my orders, plans and commands...

Was I not responsible for them?

But could I’ve changed the outcome? Was this not the enemy’s hands?

I know not who the dead would blame.

 

 

“Have you ever killed anyone?” They ask;

 

Not imagining the process they trigger.

“Yes, I suppose I have.” I think.

“Do your work.” I say quietly,

“That’s hardly relevant here.”

 

Ed Poynter

http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/2012war_poetry.html

 

 

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