Civil War

From the steel glitter of their distant lines
Royalist trumpets blew, flag banners flew,
and great drums proclaimed a blazing beat.
Vaunt from lavish rum ebbed towards fear
as urgent fate saw squarely dread reality.

We faced all this in thrall, as novice actors
stood dumbly in a role, to fearful to be real.
Bugles rang. “Advance” our Captain roared
Now our drums struck, and we were thrust
on by sergeant’s swords, sharper than fear.

Parson had said, the Lord our safety held
so do not fear, lighting in some a holy glow
against the foe. I prayed, God, let this be so.
it was silver, rum, and dashing eager style
bore me here, from the devil not the Lord.

We drew near an enemy sea, of wan faces,
haunted stares, mirrors to our doubting fear.
Perhaps like us they felt a bastard kinship.
Could we assail the king, or he his subjects?
Our canons roar to theirs, all miss any mark.

The future steals upon us, quite unknown,
until we discover, as each moment learns,
the hidden course that marks our destiny.
Though soldiers say, you’ll know it, when
in one long moment, you see a flying ball.

Our Cannons roared, shrieking over head,
ploughing a hideous screaming swathe.
Go lads” Captain yelled “Charge the gap”.
Forced on, raising pikes we trembling close.
To escape was death, deal it or embrace it.

Cruel madness might stand, less could not.
For wild eternity steel hacked mortal flesh.
A pitiful loathsome storm of bloody terror;
to slake the gall of Hell’s darkest angels.
Hailed in counter view as noble victory,

That day wears a cloak of brave endeavour;
praise, and brave applause from all not there
who do not seek true memory of that time.
But true witness is the agony you can see;
this weak broken body and shaking hand,
That will never plough or reap again.

© John Watts 2017


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