John

Over the shop door, hot air blows to keep out the cold.
It blasts my neck, and the collar of my jacket
brushes oddly against my skin.
I turn around, and there he isn’t, standing
by my side. Instead, the sight of a bloody
mess, resting before my eyes.
I cry his name, daring not to move,
there must be other mines.
Then come the mumbles of civilians, going about their day,
who all stop, just for a moment, to look at the crazy man.
He must be drunk, or something else, not for them to understand.


One night, my daughter took me to a fireworks display.
The hiss and bang, the burst of light, reactions from the crowd
as we all take cover and take account
of who is left outside. Jets roar over our heads,
and shouts of names fall on dead ears,
and tears begin to fall from
the faces of the bravest men
praying to see their families again.
Then comes the applause, happy shrieks of children,
who all stop, just for a moment, to look at the horrible man.
He must be drunk, or something else, not for them to understand.

Television talks, home provides some comfort day-to-day.
Despite the mess and dirt and grime, there’s nothing to distract
from the peace for which
we fought
and lost
in ways more than one
but for the rest, all to see
is that on paper we won.
The days roll past, measured by bottles,
cigarette butts,
white stripes of sand.
I’m drunk,
or something else,
no need to try to understand.