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World War One Poems

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War

A bad choice
The hourly charge
The flying bullets
The collapsing men
A bad taste
The death taste
The blood-covered poppies
A futile future

Cameron Gebbie
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The front line

3 hours…
2 hours…
1 hour…
30 minutes…
5 minutes…
1 minute go!
My heart was racing,
But I ran into the charging bulls of hell;
Their horns pierced my liver,
And suddenly the rain became mud,
And the mud turned to blood,
And there, I was left to rot and die.
I didn’t feel proud, I didn’t feel glory.
I felt sick.

Sonny Wilson
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The Machine gunner

A shout floats over the desolate wasteland
Of mud and wire,
As we wait for a single order,
The order to kill.
I sprint to my position in the mud clogged trench,
Squelching as I fit the magazine into my gun.
I watch in pure horror,
As the doomed British charge at us,
Their bayonets glinting in the murky,
Miserable sunlight.
I wait,
Anxiety clawing at my skin.
They march closer, closer.
I shoot.

My friend,
I cannot tell you
How hard it was to pull that trigger,
To knowingly end the life of a fellow human,
Just as I would swat a fly.
Many years later,
The memories still haunt me,
Burnt into my mind.
As I writhe within my mental agony,
I cannot erase the fact that I have killed
in cold blood.
Nor wipe my hands completely
Of the gore that stains them red.

Toby Richardson
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Charge!
We stood in the knee-deep mud
Which we called home.
Waiting,
Waiting and listening
For the call to death.
The voice came clear,
Ringing through No Man’s Land.
The command was quick,
The voice filled with authority,
Yet also with dread.
A soldier stuck his head up,
The first one to go,
So young,
Too young.
He landed back in our trench,
Screaming, his eyes open wide,
But gradually fading, fading, fading.
We charged over the top,
Into the jaw of death.
Bullets whizzed past my face,
Men screamed in pain and thumped to the ground.
As I fell for the last time,
I realised we’d been lied to,
And what a bitter lie it was.

Tomas Richardson
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The Sign-Up

Sounds of excited men fill my ears,
Shouting to be heard
Over the booming drums,
Drawing the patriotism out of the crowd.
Suddenly I’m at the front of the line,
The large, smiling man behind
The sign-up desk
Luring me in with his friendliness.
As I step forward,
A rush of adrenalin grabs me.
The form on the desk,
The pen shaking in my hand.
What will I find out there,
On the adventure of a life-time?
The feeling of being wanted,
needed even,
spurs me on,
Filling me with pride.
I sign my name,
Willing to do my bit
For King and Country.

Tomas Richardson
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