No One Left by Our Side

A poem of the horrors and brutality of World War One…

Where Once Stood Men

Fledgling thoughts murmur in the distance
Whispering with rolling thunder and fear
Pouring rain, seen but rarely heard
Tears, mourning a future that will never be

Lights flash, tearing through darkness
Thoughts turn to wives and sweethearts
Gas clouds roll in, creeping over the land
Shells expose shadows as all run for cover

A red mist hangs where once stood a man
Bloody boots and feet are all that remain
Breathing in vapour, blood, bone and sinew
His life blood mingles with yours

Footsteps sink deep into mud and men
Shells explode all round, a deafening thunder
Comrades fall, their cries felt but never heard
Torn apart and scattered before your eyes

Nostrils fill with a sickly sweet stench
Of rotting flesh, gunpowder and smoke
Hovering in the air, clinging to skin and mind
A lingering memory that never fades

Alone in no man’s land, no one left by your side
Memories of a village dance steady shaking hands
Heart races as fear steers and adrenaline guides
Moving forward with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

Flesh, blood and men trampled into mud
A heavy price paid for King and Country
From the dead and dying death collects his due
They will never to their scattered bodies go*

Blood soaked the earth and generations to come
Dreams lost, discarded or simply left behind
Down through the years the survivors followed
Until, like no man’s land, no one is left by our side

*Adapted from the line: “Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go” by John Donne in his Holy Sonnet VII: At The Round Earth’s Imagined Corners

Copyright © 2014 Shawn D. Standfast. All rights reserved.

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