Minds at War
anthology of poetry of the First World War. All the greatest war poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and war poems of over 70 other notable poets. All set in the context of the poets' lives and historical records. With historic photographs and cartoons. Edited by David Roberts.
400 pages £15-99 (UK)
Australian soldiers have long fought alongside British soldiers so it's about time we had some war poems from Australia here. David J Delaney is our first Australian poet, Peter Hughes is the second.
Reflections of East Timor from Peter Hughes, an ex Australian Clearance
ABOVE THE FLAMES
Jakarta flames & flashes up at us.
I imagine angry faces turned south
behind a cloak of blackness.
We pass overhead
leaving crystals of ice
to fall in our wake.
I flush hard and smell
a fresh orchard.
To the north the gods tear
great rents in the ebony shawl.
Flashes of lightning
turning night to day.
Behind to the south the
Another generation of
Diggers sweat in
They think of home,
as they lie still and wet,
listening to the crawling night.
I touch your pictures as we
flash into the northern hemisphere
at 15 kilometres a minute,
and thank God and
generations of ANZACS
that we are free...
and you are all safe within
Tuscan coloured walls
and steel fences of wheat.
I live in
I never had the chance
to serve in the military, but do have family, mates and former work
colleagues who have served. I am currently the Cairns RSL (Returned
Serviceman’s League) ‘Poet at call’ and believe
all service personnel past
and present deserve all the accolades and support we can give. -
An Old Vet's* Christmas
He shuffles down a quiet darkened street,
alone, he always dreads this time of year,
cause locals, he just cannot bear to meet.
He eats collected scraps and drinks warm beer.
Now as the rain begins to softly fall
he crawls beneath a long deserted shop,
and hears the singing from the nearby hall
while all the time, he wishes, they would stop.
A flash sends goose bumps covering his skin
the sky now rumbles with a long deep tone,
then, brings back horrors hidden deep within,
again, he fronts the enemy alone.
Now mortars fall as with each lightning blast
he’s foetal in his cardboard box and prays,
and shaking as his heart is pounding fast,
arms wrapped around his head, he rocks and sways
He flinches and he moans with every burst,
relives the scenes held deep within his brain,
and wishes that the visions would disperse,
the sight of blown up bodies, still remain.
The rain’s like thunder on this roof of tin,
like non stop gunfire in a jungle dense.
He’s once again a soldier inthe din,
where many boys, lost all their innocence.
The ‘war’ is easing as the thunder dies,
he now releases clasping hands from ears,
remembers politicians and their lies
and how so many died throughout those years.
He hears again the Christmas Carols clear,
his shaking starts now slowly to decrease,
while in the darkness, sheds a lonely tear,
and knows that only death can bring release.
He’ll fight no more this demon battle ground
as finally succumbed he starts to doze.
In time his lifeless body will be found.
This old mans story, scribes can now expose.
David J Delaney
Written 21 December 2009
* Vet is a term little used in the UK but familiar in other parts of the world to mean former or veteran soldiers or other service personnel.
We honour our old veterans, we honour them with pride
and read of all the horrors they have carried deep inside.
We know they served in Asia or
We know that fateful landing on Gallipoli’s dark shore,
wherever Aussies fought, we know there are so many more,
but now a new young generation needs our help as well,
they too have been to war and suffer with their private hell.
Though losses are not classed as great, their fears are just the same
those electronic hidden bombs, still injure, kill or maim.
They fight against an enemy they find so hard to see
who mingle in the market place, then cause much tragedy.
or roaming in
The suicide stealth bombers, don’t care who they hurt or kill,
then, with their own beliefs, they try to break our forces will.
they’re in the skies, they’re on the sea, or on the desert sand.
Now many are returning with the horrors they still see
and living with their nightmares, suffering bureaucracy.
but all vets young or old, they need our help throughout the year,
support and listen to their stories, when they do get told,
lets honour our new veterans, just like we do our old.
David J Delaney
10 February 2010 ©
Sitting by the campfire glow
do you drift in silent thought
think of diggers young and brave
and countries where they fought
Resting in their compound safe
did they stare at lucent flame
then imagine if they could
they were back home again
Fighting Boers in Africa
on the hills or open plains
did they circle late night fires
and miss their home town rains
Middle eastern deserts bare
under mesmerising stars,
did they stand around a fire
and talk of eastern bars
Near the battle fields of France
where so many gave their lives,
did they sit by warming fire
share photos of their wives
Once again in world war two
resting on Kokoda’s track,
did our boys group round a fire
and think they’d not come back
Inside deathly prison camps
endless cruelty brave men bore
did the weak surround a fire
dream of Australia’s shore
Hillsides bare, now in Korea
called the forgotten war
did our diggers make a fire
pray for their full withdraw
Troops were called up-on again
now Vietnam’s jungle dense
did they drink by campfire’s glow
say, “this does not make sense”
Serving now on foreign shores
tropic nights or winter sun
do they sit by campfire warm
glad when their tour is done
Next time you’re by campfire glow
drifting into silent thought
think of diggers young or old
remember why they fought.
David J Delaney
14 July 2009 ©