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26th-Jun-2017 01:00 am - Johnny Mercer, 'G.I. Jive'
G.I. Jive

This is the G. I. Jive
Man alive
It starts with the bugler blowin' reveille over your bed when you arrive
Jack, that's the G. I. Jive

Jump in your suit
Make a salute

After you wash and dress
More or less
You go get your breakfast in a beautiful little caf they call "The Mess"
Jack, when you convalesce

Outta your seat
Into the street
Make with the feet

If you're a P-V-T, your duty
Is to salute to L-I-E-U-T
But if you brush the L-I-E-U-T
The M-P makes you K-P on the Q-T

This is the G. I. Jive
Man alive
They give you a private tank that features a little device called "fluid drive"
Jack, after you revive

Chuck all your junk
Back in the trunk
Fall on your bunk

This is the G. I. Jive
Man alive
They give you a private tank that features a little device called "fluid drive"
Jack, if you still survive

Chuck all your junk
Back in the trunk
Fall on your bunk

Soon you're countin' jeeps
But before you count to five
Seems you're right back diggin' that G. I. Jive

by Johnny Mercer

Magpies In Picardy

The magpies in Picardy
Are more than I can tell.
They flicker down the dusty roads
And cast a magic spell
On the men who march through Picardy,
Through Picardy to hell.

(The blackbird flies with panic,
The swallow goes with light,
The finches move like ladies,
The owl floats by at night;
But the great and flashing magpie
He flies as artists might.)

A magpie in Picardy
Told me secret things—
Of the music in white feathers,
And the sunlight that sings
And dances in deep shadows—
He told me with his wings.

(The hawk is cruel and rigid,
He watches from a height;
The rook is slow and sombre,
The robin loves to fight;
But the great and flashing magpie
He flies as lovers might.)

He told me that in Picardy,
An age ago or more,
While all his feathers still were eggs,
These dusty highways bore
Brown, singing soldiers marching out
Through Picardy to war.

He said that still through chaos
Works on the ancient plan,
And two things have altered not
Since first the world began—
The beauty of the wild green earth
And the bravery of man.

(For the sparrow flies unthinking
And quarrels in his flight;
The heron trails his legs behind,
The lark goes out of sight;
But the great and flashing magpie
He flies as poets might.)

by T.P. Cameron Wilson
24th-Jun-2017 01:00 am - Patrick Campbell, 'Tommy'
(with apologies to Rudyard Kipling and the modern Army)

They flew me ‘ome from Baghdad with a bullet in me chest.
Cos they’ve closed the army ‘ospitals, I’m in the NHS.
The nurse she ain’t no Britisher, so she ain’t too impressed.
It’s like I’m some street corner thug who’s come off second best.
Yes, it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “You’re not welcome ‘ere”.
But when Saddam was collar'd, they was quick enough to cheer.
They’re proud when Tommy Atkins ‘olds the thin red line out there,
But now he’s wounded back at ‘ome, ‘e has to wait for care.

Some stranger in the next bed sez, “Don’t you feel no shame?
You kill my Muslim brothers!”; so it’s me not ‘im to blame!
An’ then the cleaner ups an’ sez, “Who are you fightin’ for?
It ain’t for Queen and country ‘cos it’s Bush’s bloody war!”
It’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’“Tommy what’s that smell?”
But it’s “God go with you, Tommy,” when they fly us out to ‘ell.
O then we’re just like ‘eroes from the army’s glorious past.
Yes, it’s “God go with you, Tommy”, when the trip might be your last.

They pays us skivvy’s wages, never mind we’re sitting ducks,
When clerks what’s pushing pens at ‘ome don’t know their flippin’ luck.
”Ah, yes,” sez they, “but think of all the travel to be ‘ad.”
Pull the other one! Does Cooks do holidays in Baghdad?
It’s Tommy this, ‘an Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, know your place,”
But it’s, “Tommy take the front seat,” when there’s terrorists to chase,
An’ the town is full of maniacs who’d like you dead toot sweet.
Yes it’s “Thank you Mister Atkins,” when they find you in the street.

There’s s’posed to be a covynant to treat us fair an’ square,
But I ‘ad to buy me army boots, an’ me combats is threadbare.
An’ ’alf the bloody ‘elicopters can’t get in the air,
An’ me pistol jammed when snipers fired. That’s why they brought me ‘ere.
Yes, it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, “We ‘ave to watch the pence”;
Though bold as brass the P.M. sez, “We spare them no expense.”
But I’ll tell you when they do us proud an’ pull out all the stops,
It’s when Tommy lands at Lyneham in a bloomin’ wooden box!!!

By Patrick Campbell
The Guards Came Through

Men of the Twenty-first
Up by the Chalk Pit Wood,
Weak with our wounds and our thirst,
Wanting our sleep and our food,
After a day and a night --
God, shall we ever forget!
Beaten and broke in the fight,
But sticking it -- sticking it yet.
Trying to hold the line,
Fainting and spent and done,
Always the thud and the whine,
Always the yell of the Hun!
Northumberland, Lancaster, York,
Durham and Somerset,
Fighting alone, worn to the bone,
But sticking it -- sticking it yet.

Never a message of hope!
Never a word of cheer!
Fronting Hill 70's shell-swept slope,
With the dull dead plain in our rear.
Always the whine of the shell,
Always the roar of its burst,
Always the tortures of hell,
As waiting and wincing we cursed
Our luck and the guns and the Boche,
When our Corporal shouted, "Stand to!"
And I heard some one cry, "Clear the front for the Guards!"
And the Guards came through.

Our throats they were parched and hot,
But Lord, if you'd heard the cheers!
Irish and Welsh and Scot,
Coldstream and Grenadiers.
Two brigades, if you please,
Dressing as straight as a hem,
We -- we were down on our knees,
Praying for us and for them!
Lord, I could speak for a week,
But how could you understand!
How should your cheeks be wet,
Such feelin's don't come to you.
But when can me or my mates forget,
When the Guards came through?

"Five yards left extend!"
It passed from rank to rank.
Line after line with never a bend,
And a touch of the London swank.
A trifle of swank and dash,
Cool as a home parade,
Twinkle and glitter and flash,
Flinching never a shade,
With the shrapnel right in their face
Doing their Hyde Park stunt,
Keeping their swing at an easy pace,
Arms at the trail, eyes front!

Man, it was great to see!
Man, it was fine to do!
It's a cot and a hospital ward for me,
But I'll tell'em in Blighty, wherever I be,
How the Guards came through.

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The London Times, June 23, 1917
Up Shit's Creek With No Sense Of Smell

" Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one day suffocate in your own waste."
—Chief Seattle to President Franklin Pierce, 1854

There’s another Ozone Alert in this kiln
of a city. Empty pockets roast
in tenement ovens while ties and twin sets
shiver in unceasing steams of central air.
Forests are dying of thirst. Kindling
for the next six alarm fire. We’re out on a limb,
as always, thinking we’ve got the answer—
cut down the tree by sawing off the branch

we’ve settled on. Wile E. Coyote’s burning
fuel like tomorrow is wearing
a parachute. Chases Roadrunner right
off a cliff. Doesn’t plummet till he looks
down to see the wide nothing below.

We’ll be OK. We won’t look.

by Nina Corwin
Claiming To Be Canadian

When they come for you, digging
in your breast-coat pockets, riffling
your face with their stares, weeping
over what the men of your country
have done to the women of theirs—
claim to be Canadian, your face
crimping into a windswept innocence,
as when a man seeks shelter
from the Plains of Abraham,
December’s storms the disguised ghosts of April.

When they come for you, cross-referencing
your name against the flight log’s claims
of nationality in the little cabin
where once drinks were served—
describe the winds stealing over Manitoba
with a grain-like hunger
all the way to Alberta. Rehash the descent
into the snow-blind Yukon with the hush
you have taught your children
is the blizzard of quiet
they must observe before sleep.

The Separatist Question? Acts of Confederation? The War of 1812?
What have they to do with the rippling shadows of the wings
reading the Braille of the earth unto the spring?
You have seen the flocks in the television of your heart, now speak
of the late green fields loaded with the necks of barnacle geese.

If this fails, if as the plane banks East,
and they have grown impatient, tell them how
it is a nation turning the gun on itself, your Canada.
Defenseless as a suicide, it huddles around the Pole
the way a man does the torn limbs of his sanity:
ten provinces, three territories, sutured into one body
by ferry boats, trans-continental highways,
a confederation of contradictions.

To bring Prince Edward Island into the fold,
to bring Nova Scotia into the fold,
to clutch Quebec like a raving lover,
a man frays around the frozen bay of his skull,
his soul crying like Henry Hudson cut adrift.

And still, if this is not enough,
if the names of cities come unpronounceable to you,
if, like an encyclopedia, you have whispered too long,
then, let them pry from you your parents’ names,
and when they have them, call it Canada
where your father stands before the idling Dodge
of his failure, where your mother is naked
up to her wrists in prayer, where your sister drools
hour after hour in the dry Toronto of your childhood,
and you—you wake convinced you were nationalized
into the wrong tract of houses, schooled
to sing an anthem that slips from you
like a hand from a throat.

By Andrew Miller
Pierrot Goes To War

In the sheltered garden pale beneath the moon,
(Drenched with swaying fragrance, redolent with June!)
There, among the shadows, someone lingers yet –
Pierrot, the lover, parts from Pierrette.

Bugles, bugles, bugles, blaring down the wind,
Sound the flaming challenge - Leave your dreams behind!
Come away from the shadows, turn your back on June –
Pierrot, go forward to face the golden noon.

In the muddy trenches, black and torn and still,
(How the charge swept over, to break against the hill!)
Huddled in the shadows, boyish figures lie –
They whom Death, saluting, called upon to die.

Bugles, ghostly bugles, whispering down the wind –
Dreams too soon are over, gardens left behind.
Only shadows linger, for love does not forget –
Pierrot goes forward – but what of Pierrette?

by Gabrielle Elliot
A Wedding At Cana, Lebanon 2007

He said, "It is terrible what happens."
And "So, Mr. Tom,
do not forget me"—an old-fashioned ring, pop tunes,
salsa! salsa! the techno-version of Beethoven's
Fifth, Fairouz singing how love has arrived,
that's what he heard after they dropped the bombs,
his ambulance crawling through smoke while cellphones
going off here here here kept ringing—
how the rubble-buried bodies' still living
relatives kept calling to see who survived.

And when he dug through concrete scree scorched black
still smoking
from the explosion, squadrons of jets droning overhead,
houses blown to rebar, he saw cellphones'
display lights flashing from incoming calls
and when he flipped the covers, saw phone camera pics,
pics of kids, wives, dads, single, grouped, some wearing
silly party hats, scenes of hilarity
compacted on the screen: it was "not good"
he said, to have to take the phone out of the body

part pocket: Hello—no, no, he's here,
right here, but not—
and then he'd have to explain...and so he stopped
answering. A soft-spoken young man
studying engineering, only moonlighting
as an ambulance driver, he stood at
the crossroads where Jesus turned water
into wine and where, rising out of rubble, floating down
the cratered street, bride and bridegroom came walking
in the heat and as they came the wedding guests held up
cell cameras clicking when the couple climbed, waving,
blazoned on the car's rear windscreen. The muezzin's
nasal wail began to blare all over town, and the pair
drove off to ululating shouts and cries, firecrackers
kicking up dust in the square. The show over, we
got back into our car, our tires crunching
over rubble. As I sat there rubbernecking
at a burned-out tank, he shrugged: "All this—how embarrassing."
And "I hope this is the story you are after."

by Tom Sleigh

18th-Jun-2017 01:00 am - Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, 'Comrades'

As I was marching in Flanders
A ghost kept step with me--
Kept step with me and chuckled
And muttered ceaselessly:

"Once I too marched in Flanders,
The very spit of you,
And just a hundred years since,
To fall at Waterloo.

"They buried me in Flanders
Upon the field of blood,
And long I've lain forgotten
Deep in the Flemmish mud.

"But now you march in Flanders,
The very spit of me;
To the ending of the day's march
I'll bear you company."

By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815
The Thousand Names Of God

Walking forever is a long long time,
Destiny is just the same old line,
The war has come and we have let it come,
The war for the blood of the chosen one.

All you see is illusion,
And all you feel is mute confusion,

The war is never over,

No-one ever sees the black machine,
You'll never fill my shoes,
Out on the killing floor where the eagle screams,
Bad man luck and bad man dreams.

No you cannot kill the time,
You will not have to choose,
And then you'll have to pay your dues,
You don't care about the pain,
You will survive the day,
And speak the thousand names of God.

All of your days are dying,
All of the doomsday birds are flying,

The war is never over,

Nobody ever wants to hear the truth,
Too much like taking blame,
The way we are we are the living proof,
Bad news boogie and sunk in shame.

No you cannot kill the time,
You will not have to choose,
And then you'll have to pay your dues,
You don't care about the pain,
You will survive the day,
And speak the thousand names of God.

Under the world is only dead and cold,
And you still think that you can save your soul,
The war is come and we have washed our hands,
Bathed in the blood of the fighting man.

All of your hearts are broken,
And all the magic words are spoken,

The war is never over,

You'll never walk out of this poison ground,
You'll never be the one,
Your head will never get to wear the crown,
No luck left when hope is gone.

No you cannot kill the time,
You will not have to choose,
And then you'll have to pay your dues,
You don't care about the pain,
You will survive the day,
And speak the thousand names of God

By 'Motorhead'

Lines Written In Surrey, 1917

A sudden swirl of song in the bright sky—
The little lark adoring his lord the sun;
Across the corn the lazy ripples run;
Under the eaves, conferring drowsily,
Doves droop or amble; the agile waterfly
Wrinkles the pool; and flowers, gay and dun,
Rose, bluebell, rhododendron, one by one,
The buccaneering bees prove busily.
Ah, who may trace this tranquil loveliness
In verse felicitous?—no measure tells;
But gazing on her bosom we can guess
Why men strike hard for England in red hells,
Falling on dreams, 'mid Death's extreme caress,
Of English daisies dancing in English dells.

By George Herbert Clarke
To Hell In A Handbasket

At the recruiting office
they asked him straight out if
he was interested in becoming
“A Rocket Technician.”
He thought about it for a full
ten seconds, liked the sound
of “A Rocket Technician, huh!?
Sure, sign me up.” Learned
Lesson Numero Uno of enlisted
life: Always inquire what these
things mean before committing
yourself. Found out his job was
loading rockets onto gunships
and once they were secure,
he was to assume his primary
job function as a side-hatch
gunner, firing support on missions.
Early on he heard the co-pilot take some
incoming, turned to look and caught
a round in the area where his right
eye used to be. If he hadn’t turned
just then he would have caught that
round square in the temple and have
become a dead rocket technician/
side-gunner. He went over to Nam
mostly crazy, came back all the way
crazy and a whole lot more. Said, “My
duty was like going to hell in a hand-
basket,” and looking at him now, you
figured, once he reached his destination,
there was no coming back.

By Alan Catlin
15th-Jun-2017 01:00 am - Alexis Child, "The Reprisal"
The Reprisal

The slain arise from the dust
Hands awash in history's blood
Uncleansed from sorrow
In time's forgotten graves
Hear the call bringing darkness
The horrors of betrayal
The past shall revisit us
No escape

by Alexis Child
Musings On A Small War
(Late reflections on a safe return from the Falklands War)

I watched the burials in the cemetery overlooking Ajax Bay,
grieved with their companions; thought of families far away.
There is a lonelier ground than this, so I’ve heard tell,
but where was it to be found? Nowhere this side of Hell.

T.V and newspapers have proclaimed the fighting’s glory;
for those down there it was a different tale; a truer story
of men, not all young, who fought and survived
their unlucky comrades-at-arms who have died.

How to account for each precious life taken away –
is it enough to recall that they did their duty this day?

Tell it so to those families who, in desolation and sorrow,
have given up yesterday’s light for a black tomorrow.
Tell it to men dead in the mud or floating in the sea
but for Christ’s sake don’t try and tell that to me.

Ships sunk; aircraft down; men missing, believed dead
good viewing on the nightly news before the nation goes to bed.
But our news was relief at another day seen through
and hope that the coming night’s fears were survivable, too.

“Hit the deck, hit the deck” is the loudspeaker’s awful call
as we scramble from sleep to the “Action Stations” alarm thrall.
Snapshots of one’s life flash past –
grab a breath and wonder if it could be the last.

“You survived, you came home” the disbelieving voices cried,
“what of the real heroes who did not return, those who died?”
“True” my friends, “no scars to show and our faces are unlined;
but, oh, if only you could feel the wounds gaping in our minds”.

“Would you fight again?” ask the silent whispers of the night,
As I try to forget the apocalyptic visions which are a blight
on my peace. Yes, oh yes, when others of my blood have lost
their freedom, their way of life; and not to count the cost.

War-broken bodies were healed, returned to a normality:
ravaged pysches festered unseen in their distorted reality.
Two hundred and fifty-five men did not return victorious from this war;
almost thirty years on, and lonely suicides have doubled that score.

By Nicholas Lutwyche

Falklands War, April 2 - June 14, 1982
13th-Jun-2017 01:00 am - Ivor Gurney, 'To England - A Note'
To England - A Note

I watched the boys of England where they went
Through mud and water to do appointed things.
See one a stake, and one wire-netting brings,
And one comes slowly under a burden bent
Of ammunition. Though the strength be spent
They "carry on" under the shadowing wings
Of Death the ever-present. And hark, one sings
Although no joy from the grey skies be lent.

Are these the heroes—these? have kept from you
The power of primal savagery so long?
Shall break the devil's legions? These they are
Who do in silence what they might boast to do;
In the height of battle tell the world in song
How they do hate and fear the face of War.

by Ivor Gurney
12th-Jun-2017 02:00 am - Ann-Marie Spittle, 'Do You Know?'
Do You Know?

When darkness comes
And with it the shadows of the dead
Do you know?
When battles fought fly around my head
Do you know?
When you speak with an acid tongue
And tell me I was wrong
Do you know the price we paid
In the jungles of Vietnam?

No, sit there in your easy chair
And dream your dreams of comfort
Do not break your narrow view
Or try to see from my side
For you break into fear's sweat
If your welfare check’s too late
Or someone knocks upon your door
When it's getting to way past eight

You judge me without knowing
And that is no judge at all
For experience tells the adult
What the young do not yet know
Just give me one small ounce of feeling
As a parent to a child
And hug me as my heart is breaking
Right here deep inside

I suffered more than you can know
In that dark leafed place
Where death walked side by side with me
And often showed his face
Some days I did not know if I
Was ever coming home
And then I’m faced with acid rain
From you when I come home

I fought because I’m a soldier
And a warrior's hearts beats within me
You comfort lover would not understand this
So I retreat
But know this when you finally see
Before your last breath leaves you cold
That all I wanted was your love
And not a heart of stone

By Ann-Marie Spittle
In Time of The Breaking of Nations


Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.


Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.


Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War’s annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.

By Thomas Hardy
The Mythology Of America (The US of A)

We all live in fascinating times; in a fascinating era.
We tend to remember events as we wanted them to be,
Not as they were, not as they happened.
For we are all a part of the American “Dream”,
A world we have imagined we live in,
In a country we imagined as perfect,
With a life where we try to attain “Perfection”,
Where we could be whom we always wanted to be,
In a country where we can dwell with our perfect families,
In the "Promised Land”, to live “Happily ever after!”

We all tend to mythologize our past, our history,
This country with our seizing of the Indian lands,
Committed genocide, on an entire race of human beings.
Who were simply in the way of our self-indulgence;
Overlooking the cruelty of our callous inhumane acts
As in our greed we methodically eradicated them!
By seizing all previous Indian land in America as “ours”,
“From sea to shining sea.” (American Exceptionalism)
Under the guise of our God-given, “Manifest Destiny!”
An America we proclaim as our “Sweet land of Liberty”;
Where “God shed his Grace”, on our “Fruited Plain”.
This land, where “Freedom rings and Seas are shining”.
With “Spacious Skies” and “Purple Mountains Majesty”,
A country where the young were cautioned,
“Ask not, what your country can do for you...”
We were all, “America the Beautiful.”

Our fathers returned from World War II,
As “The Greatest Generation”, a “good” war,
A war where we kicked the shit out of Germany;
A war when we turned Japan into radioactive rubble,
Destroying the illusions of grandeur of Germany,
The egotistical manifest destiny of Japan, to smoking ruins.
As America emerged as the dominant power of the world,
A world we saved from madmen; the world now “owed us”,
For we had saved the world; we had died to set men free.

World War II was considered a “good” war,
The American men who fought it were heroes,
Became known as real “men among men”, brave, fearless;
Transcending the mortality of ordinary humans
Emerging almost God-like from our patriotic war,
A war in which all America, got caught up in together,
And who all fought this war together as one country;
Bonding together as one people united, collectively,
Fighting this war as “One nation, under God!”

If any war could ever be considered as “good”, this was it.
Common cause, common enemies, common goals,
As America rose to the world’s challenge to become,
The Leader of the free world, Champions of Democracy,
A war in which America had achieved “Victory”,
Then brought our fighting heroes back home to parades;
Where we provided our GI’s with new jobs, new cars,
New houses and college educations.

As the years passed, our mythology of the “great” war,
Emerged becoming larger than life itself, we forgot the pain.
Ignored as best we could, the wards of Veteran’s hospitals,
Where combat survivors had been safely put away,
For they were not “normal”; they had been changed by war,
So were not considered that important or vital to the future.
Instead, we made up excuses for them; it was their fault,
(As they were probably flawed human beings to start with.)

Korea kind of came, flared, then died out, we did not win,
Then again, it wasn’t really “our” war, rather a UN thing,
We were just going along with all the other countries
In a minor “Police Action”, Korea didn’t count, really,
It was WW-2 we so fondly recalled, the war we won,
Almost with nostalgia for the good old days,
The good old days of our war of “Glory”, “Patriotism”,
As America continues today as a country in denial,
About the harshness and cruelty of wars like Vietnam,
About the appalling cost and true price of what war...is!

By Curtis D. Bennett
9th-Jun-2017 01:00 am - Alfred Noyes, 'Kilmeny'
A Song of the Trawlers

Dark, dark lay the drifters, against the red west,
As they shot their long meshes of steel overside;
And the oily green waters were rocking to rest
When Kilmeny went out, at the turn of the tide.
And nobody knew where that lassie would roam,
For the magic that called her was tapping unseen.
It was well nigh a week ere Kilmeny came home,
And nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.

She’d a gun at her bow that was Newcastle’s best,
And a gun at her stern that was fresh from the Clyde,
And a secret her skipper had never confessed,
Not even at dawn, to his newly wed bride;
And a wireless that whispered above like a gnome,
The laughter of London, the boasts of Berlin.
O, it may have been mermaids that lured her from home,
But nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.

It was dark when Kilmeny came home from her quest,
With her bridge dabbled red where her skipper had died;
But she moved like a bride with a rose at her breast;
And “Well done, Kilmeny!” the admiral cried.
Now at sixty-four fathom a conger may come,
And nose at the bones of a drowned submarine;
But late in the evening Kilmeny came home,
And nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.

There’s a wandering shadow that stares at the foam,
Though they sing all the night to old England, their queen,
Late, late in the evening Kilmeny came home,
And nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.

By Alfred Noyes

Published in The Queenslander, June 9, 1917
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