February 1915 - The Dardanelles - My Grandad in the Navy: underage (just about to turn 16).


A boy sailor
In 1915's Dardanelles
After the ship had been taken to the seabed
And one of Earth's garden hells
Replaced it as the next stage
In his progress away from progression
Into the place where no mind should travel:
The Devil's recession
Where he holds his parties
And broadens his smiles
At the souls descending
Under the weight of his fire-pits' viles.

He had trained as a telegraphist
But was here, facing Turks armed with fierce:
Outnumbered and without enough bullets
Even to end it with a self-pierce
To the temple.
He had to wait with the others in the queue
Of questions
Asking "Who?".
They were frightened out of asking "Why?"
As the sound of hate
Cut down and emptied
Mate after mate.

The enemy sent gaps in the fire;
Glinting knives
At them as torment taunting
To the end of their lives
That were seen reflecting
In the Turks' steel:
The wound that was that memory
Would never heal

In all of his surviving days;
A scarred mind
Never leaves the scared
Far behind.

Unconscious and rescued
In a black of not remembered,
He left back there
Bodies as dismembered
As his dreams
Dreams that were never found
In the peace of sleep;
Daylight and the freedom to wake
Were deep underground
Along with the bomb-buried,
Whose faces his eyes could not bear to see:
Those 20,000 colleagues
Under the sea.

A Russian train took him
To Mermansk and strange voices
Held his life
In their choices:
His child face
Grabbed their pity;
They repaired his body
In their frozen city
His memories stayed iced
Into his bones
And they evermore creaked
In time to his comrades' groans.
No night was black enough
To blot out
The sights, the smells, the warmth
Of brains that had been shot out.

Weeks of travel, care, rest:
Then discharge to a place
That had been told of his death.
Grief was the stamp on his face
In the minds of those at home
And no reality of being there
Could change the accepted loss;
The already locketed treasure hair
Secured by the telegram
From the unerring War Department:
It was official and they had tear-dropped
Into that life of what forever-apart meant.
It could not be him;
The weight had conflict-slimmed his frame
And gaunted away his glow
And had taken his name.

A mother's anger and anguish
Tore at his shirt to reveal
His birthmark:
That confirming seal
It was him, she knew it,
But her grieving heart otherwise said:
He had died and no resurrection-stone
Could be rolled-back by her head.

Too ill to return
To the fight,
He was set free
To be enemied by the night:
The dark steeds
Trampled his sighs
And the salt water over the sunken
Never left his mother's eyes.

13:06, Wed. 03/07/2013.

Poetry by Mark J. Wood
Read 953 times
star mini Editors' choice
Written on 2013-07-30 at 09:46

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text

Peter Humphreys The PoetBay support member heart!
Powerful writing, Mark, that tears the guts out of you, like his fallen comrades. My grandfather fought in the trenches all through the War. He came back a still loving man but one of great silences. Peter

An epic and powerful write, an emotional read that left me saddened, so young....

Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
This text has been chosen to be featured on the home page of PoetBay. Thank you for posting it on our poetry website.

Skillfully executed poetic language. Reads smoothly and powerfully.