new zealand electronic poetry centre


Lyall Clarke

Fugacity 05
Online Poetry Anthology



The Great War. 


A call to arms,
A call for service,
“YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU” Kitchener implores. 

They – i.e. friend – take away my freedom. 

Coiled wire barbs;
the trenches;
incessant rain;
horrific battles;
the stench of death! 

War, bloody war! 

chlorine, phosgene, mustard;
silent, repugnant. 

They – i.e. foe - took away my air, my breath, my life. 

At the grave; weep, grieve and mourn. 

It is said,
“greater love has no man, than to lay down his life” 

Love? – Love! 

It is also said, “it is honourable to serve” 

Tell this to the widows and the fatherless. 

Love, denied love, is what remains. 

 “The mind of the world is warped!”



Gallipoli glory.


The call went out for one to serve his Country,
The Realm, defend, and sacrifice, if need be,
unto the noble end. 

All walks of life are nobly labelled here.
Husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, lovers, friends,
soldiers from “civvy” street.  

I’m just a common lad, maybe naive,
confused, thrown together with others, who also
are at a loss to understand. 

War - word in a dictionary, what is it?
Cowboys - Indians? Britain versus Germany “playing away”
- some other country’s field of play? 

Fight the “Mother Country’s” wars and conflicts,
young, fit and able, empire relies on us,
we practise the war-game!  

This green, raw army, sailed to distant lands,
we don’t really know what to expect,
there’s time to ponder yet! 

‘Twas not a “Sunday picnic” on the beach.
The early morn was bleakly cool and dark,
rank and file was thinly sparse. 

Guns, left, right, centre, ahead of us did lay.
Murderous volleys came, no retreat to rear,
entrapped . . . the “Grim Reaper” had a field-day! 

Just one of a number, numbers do not matter,
expendable, inestimable, count battles lost,
not the lives of men - still the war goes on!  

Slaughter or be slaughtered. The numbness of it all.
Days, weeks, months. Carnage! Annihilation!
Flip a coin - alive? dead? 

In war, there’s no time for sympathy or sentiment,
sorrow is for those loved ones left behind,                    
memories, times past, tears!  

A glorious death, Ill be remembered.
To die for “God, King, Country,” it was duty,
I was dispensable.  

I did not ask to be a famous hero.
I answered Country’s call, was not prepared
for accolade, honour . . . alive! - dead! 

Neither medals nor ribbons adorn my breast,
rank, name, number, I was non-entity.
Glory, of what use to me . . . posthumously? 

Friend - foe, all walks of life are nobly buried here.
Husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, lovers, friends,
Dead. Glorious dead. Heroic dead. Yes . . . dead!


Last updated 25 April, 2005