Lest We Forget

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Row upon row, the crosses stand,
An army on parade,
Tended now by gentler hand
‘Neath verdant palisade.

Like silent sentinels, the trees
Stand guard here day and night
Though now only the bees
And vengeful magpies keep the fight.

No Sergeant-Major’s voice is heard,
No bugle call to battle.
The sound of leaves, by breezes stirred,
The call of distant cattle.

Baptised by mud and blood and sweat,
They heard their country’s call.
Waved off by crowds who then forget
And never see them fall.

From battle’s fertile fields, they’re borne
With honour to this place.
That we’ve not learned their lesson
Means yet more will meet their fate.

Though the lucky ones return,
It’s clear they’re never quite the same.
They, too, have paid a heavy price
Despite the victory claim.

Stephen Tomkins
3 April 2017
Sydney

Photo credit:
journalstar.com

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Tell Me Why? – A Tribute to the Fallen

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Molten face and vacant heart,
Slowly, I’ve been ripped apart.
On misty window, torrents stream.
In vain, I pray it’s just a dream.
A crumpled letter, trembling hand,
At last, I think I understand:
The thing I dreaded has come to pass.
The whole damn war’s a bloody farce!
My son, my boy, my little mate
Stepped upon a pressure plate.
A bang, a flash, there was no pain –
Another death, so little gain.
He’s coming home on Wednesday night
Aboard a scheduled Air Force flight.
I’ll miss his hug, his cheeky grin –
Forever changed, the world has been.

Stephen Tomkins
2 May 2015