Freedom to Think

Fingernails blackened, like the charred corpses of those boys

Hanging on barbed wire like the king’s forgotten toys


Crouching in the cold puddle

the water snaking round my feet

Wishing an end to this desperate cold

wakeful I wait the mortars heat


The Captain’s nearly twenty

I didn’t understand his words

But if he sends us back over

then he’s just another turd


Don’t wanna die, don’t wanna live

if this is now my home

Looking into faces paler than a glacier

lit under this moonlight dome


Rat screeches

stinking shit in men’s breeches

the doctor with his awful leeches

My tiny tin, my pleasure, lace and a wire twist

a twinkling marble, my childhood treasure


Fingernails black

but my hands won’t stop trembling

body and mind slowly disassembling


No space for peace

no more talk of treaties

No longer care whose side I’m on


Can’t think at all under the screaming screaming bombs

Want to go home

want my mummy and my dad


Didn’t know at seventeen

that life could get this bad

Sergeant major’s guns out

he's pointing it at me

Gesturing the ladder

that leads to eternity


My legs won’t take me

my sergeant can’t make me


I put his gun in my mouth

I ask him to take me

I have no doubt

and from this horror

I find my way out....

Journeys of Jackman ..The wanderings, musings, learning and thoughts from one man who woke up

One hundred years since the catastrophe that was The First World War. We have had 100 years in which to learn the lessons of the lost generation. I wonder as I look around how many of those lessons we have learned?? Tis just my thinking......

David Jackman August 2014

Anthem For Doomed Youth


Wilfred Owen


What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?


Only the monstrous anger of the guns.


Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle


Can patter out their hasty orisons.


No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;


Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,


The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;


And bugles calling for them from sad shires.


What candles may be held to speed them all?


Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes


Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.


The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;


Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds


And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds

Suicide in the Trenches


Siegfried Sassoon


I knew a simple soldier boy


Who grinned at life in empty joy,


Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,


And whistled early with the lark.


In winter trenches, cowed and glum,


With crumps and lice and lack of rum,


He put a bullet through his brain.


No one spoke of him again.


You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye


Who cheer when soldier lads march by,


Sneak home and pray you'll never know


The hell where youth and laughter go

WilfredOwen SS 013 Life-in-the-trenches

This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity ... Wilfred Owen's words about his book of poetry before  he was killed in action...


Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, including for me most especially the third novel The Ghost Road. The most fascinating and haunting contempory literature I have read about The Great War ...