Friday 25th May 2018


Dr Brian Lighthill reads the poems.

When The Men Came Back

Cesca M. Croft

They say that time is a healer.
Time numbs the mind,
blanks out the memories.
But then you hear the fireworks
and in the dark of the night
you can still die ~ of fright.
Just the sound ~ of the bangs ~ all around
like guns, triggers the memory,
the fear, the cold sweats,
of being fired at ~
Up in the sky, over the sea,
no self defence, in foreign territory
The crew is gripped with fear,
nerves in shreds, mouth deadly dry
We could be dead soon,
we could plunge to the icy sea,
disappear under the Atlantic,
never to be found again.
“Lost at sea”
Back home again
for a week or two
We’re at a party
It’s so unreal
I curl up in a corner,
head in hands.
I can be me again
the real Me,
the husband, the father,
the neighbour.
This is Me.
Now I can cry …
gentle arms hold me close.
What I have seen
won’t go away.
It’s still here, 20 years on,
and every firework
that you casually let off
proves that time
is not a healer.

Falklands War, April 2 – June 14, 1982


The Right Word

Imtiaz Dharker

Outside the door,
lurking in the shadows,
is a terrorist.
Is that the wrong description?
Outside that door,
taking shelter in the shadows,
is a freedom fighter.
I haven’t got this right.
Outside, waiting in the shadows,
is a hostile militant.
Are words no more
than waving, wavering flags?
Outside your door,
watchful in the shadows,
is a guerrilla warrior.
God help me.
Outside, defying every shadow,
stands a martyr.
I saw his face.
No words can help me now.
Just outside the door,
lost in shadows,
is a child, who looks like mine.
One word for you.
Outside my door,
his hand too steady,
his eyes too hard
is a boy who looks like your son, too.
I open the door.
Come in, I say.
Come in and eat with us.
The child steps in
and carefully, at my door,
takes off his shoes.

Imtiaz Dharker is a Pakistan-born British poet, artist and documentary filmmaker. She has won the Queen’s Gold Medal for her English poetry.


When I think of Home

Catlin L. Crawford

When I think of ‘home’ I think of cherry pies
When I think of ‘home’ I think of mulberry trees
When I think of ‘home’ I think of butterflies
When I think of ‘home’ I think of bumble bees

When I think of ‘home’ I think of hummingbirds
When I think of ‘home’ I think of sun brewed tea
When I think of ‘home’ I think of morning walks
When I think of ‘home’ I think of Grandma and me

When I think of ‘home’ I think of hidden trails
When I think of ‘home’ I think of lullabies
When I think of ‘home’ I think of signs of spring
When I think of ‘home’ I think of pumpkin pies

When I think of ‘home’ I think of bedtime stories
When I think of ‘home’ I think of I think of honeysuckle
When I think of ‘home’ I think of roses blooming
When I think of ‘home’ I can’t help but chuckle

Because when I think of ‘home’ I think Heaven
When I think of ‘home’ I think of all that’s kind
When I think of ‘home’ I think of dancing
When I think of ‘home’ Grandma comes to mind


Eternal Soldier

Ann-Marie Spittle

I am the Eternal Soldier
Though my body breaks
My soul goes on
Through the jungles and the deserts
Across the mountains and the seas
Whither I am called I go
Steadfast, reliable
Though my mouth moans
And my body aches
I push on
Until the objective is done
The opposers disperse
Or I am called elsewhere

As one battle ends
Another begins
Always with myself
The battle is the greatest
While you break, I bend
When you fall, I walk on
Always expected to be courageous
Always expected to be brave
Always the first to charge
While others stand behind me
Like fearful children
Hoping I will kill the big bad wolf

I am the eternal soldier
Our heart beats as one
Though my body is many
Brothers are we in blood and bone.

While around us separation
Takes hold of the individual
Hold my hand
And I will guide you through
For I am Michael, soldier of Angels
My heart is true
To the cause of my country
That others may not suffer
The horrors of the past

Walk with me if you dare
For mine is not a path lightly taken
Brave heart, brave feet
Brave voice, brave action
These are our creed
And our battle cry.

Ann-Marie is an ex-British Army Lance Corporal who served 9½ years as a WRAC military Clerk. When the Corps was disbanded and the ladies were integrated into the Regular Army regiments associated with their respective trades, Ann-Marie served with the Adjutants Generals Corps. She quips that she joined the Army because the rest of her family were members of the RAF and she “likes to be different.”


The Falling Leaves

Margaret Postgate Cole

November 1915

Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.

During World War I, her brother Raymond Postgate sought exemption from military service as a socialist conscientious objector, but was denied recognition and jailed for refusing military orders. Her support for her brother led her to a belief in pacifism. During her subsequent campaign against conscription, she met G. D. H. Cole, whom she married in a registry office in August 1918. The couple worked together for the Fabian Society before moving to Oxford in 1924, where they both taught and wrote. In the early 1930s, Margaret abandoned her pacifism in reaction to the suppression of socialist movements by the governments in Germany and Austria and to the events of the Spanish Civil War.


I Have Not Forgotten

John Bishop

The Tri-Star is in the sky
Still the guns sound
Earth and bones are shattered
Poppies bloom and intoxicate
The pockets of the wealthy
I have not forgotten
Although I did not witness
With my own eyes
I have not forgotten
The Tri-Star flies faster
Its cargo nearer to God
The race is on
The two minutes silence
Is deafening and is announced
Over the Tannoy for all to respond
Busy being still is the day
Kettles boil the silence does not
Stop the mind or delay that cup of tea
I have not forgotten
Although I did not witness
With my own eyes
I have not forgotten
The Tri-Star puts its wheels down
A beast of forty years
Burdened with furious haste
Dawn has come
It is happening again
Putting down in November British rain
The desert air has been left behind
Modern state of the art equipment
Awaits the cargo
The race is still on
Save the soldier
Save the day
You don’t see this on the news
100 plus amputees
Not marching down the road
Blind leading the blind
I have not forgotten how could I?
I hear it every day
The Tri-Star is in the sky
Mind and souls are shattered
Poppies bloom
And intoxicate the pockets of the wealthy

11th November 2010


Mr Blair say’s “Be Proud”.

John Bishop

My father he fought my war for me
So I could listen to Rock N Roll and watch flat screen TV
Now the war is lost and my son must pay the cost
While I sit at home and make mittens over tea
I will grow older and fatter
While he sits in some desert shelter
The storms of Muslim anger beating on his roof
While I will lay me down amongst the rotten sheep
Who bleat and bah at rises in tax and fuel costs
While others drive their 4x4s onto the awaiting arc
And escape to a higher ground
The flood is coming and the Earth is cracking
And my son may return a half baked hero

Be proud
Be proud
Be proud
The rulers of our classes shout aloud

But their dealings leave a bitter taste
The sand will enter every face
And blast an evil trace upon my kind.

Will my son fight my war for me?
I will slip away beneath the ground
I will leave not even a shadow
Not a thing for him to bear
No home
No land
No inherited thought

Only a war again to be fought
People cheap to be bought

Be proud
Be proud
Be proud
For God’s sake be proud


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