When Reveille Sounds

A sestina for Armistice Day.

Red for poppies which in fields bloom
Midst the death and blood of bodies strewn;
Brown for the dirt, the trenches which flood
And fill with muck and mud and blood;
Black descends on me in death
Light fades, night falls with fleeting breath.

The earth exhales a gasping breath
As red from wounds like flowers bloom
In Flanders where life bleeds to death;
Men as seeds broadcast and strewn
Who dying cry for Mum and blood—
A swelling call as tide to flood.

The autumn rain fills fields to flood
The trenches with muck, choke the breath,
Of living land now browned with blood—
Once waved with wheat, flowered in bloom,
Now torn and ripped with metal strewn—
A splintered world of rusting death.

Assigned, resigned to our own death
O’er the top pour, a fodder in flood
‘Cross no man's land with craters strewn,
Shells scream, feet pound with desperate breath,
A hope forlorn in national bloom
Necessity’s gift: life and blood.

This band of brothers bound in blood,
Blacked by powder, smeared with death,
Shelter 'neath shells which burst and bloom,
The crack and fire, the roaring flood,
Explosion's smell, sulfuric breath,
Hope littered, wasted, cast off, strewn.

In whitened rows no longer strewn
Red sprinkles the field as blood
Which waves and swells blown by breath;
In Ypres’, now green, valley of death
No brown-clad men gather in flood
To Flanders’ fields where tombstones bloom.

One day the fields shall wind Life’s Breath,
Men as poppies rise tall in bloom,
When Rev’lle sounds the death of death.

Randall Edwards 2022
photo: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Rip Tide

Thursday’s Poetry Pub Poem a Day Challenge prompt was “currents.” Here’s my response.

“Only dead fish go with the flow.”
Unless of course, you’re caught in a rip tide
Which means if you fight it, you’re hosed
Don’t you dare swim against it,
You have to ride it out
Angle your escape, and
By the slant of words spoken, bisect it
Swimming askance,
Speaking truth slight
Is sometimes the best way
To turn on the light,
Get out and home alive.

© Randall Edwards 2022
#NovPad #PoPubPAD Challenge hosted by @poetry_pub 


Yesterday marked the beginning of the November Poem a Day Challenge #NovPAD and The Poetry Pub has offered a set of prompts for the event, #PoPubPAD. Day 1’s prompt to start us off was: Hello.

Here’s my attempt.

“Hello,” from halouen, “to shout in chase”
Or  hala “to fetch” in old high-German
A cry from one bank over the water
To get the crossed ferryman’s attention.

And though it was Mr. Bell’s invention,
Thomas thought, “Hello” was better to greet
The other in conversation, to tell
The receiver, I’m here, ready to speak.

“Hello,” is now a word of greeting
And in that way it may bring one to
the end of waiting, an invitation 
To say I am here and glad to see you.

Hello! I see you there. Do you hear me?
Can you help me across this divide,
Rivers of experience, years made wide,
By the current of circumstance and trial?

Hello! I call to get your attention
To catch your eye, to fetch your ear
Possibility calls with connection
What shall we say? Where go from here?

(c) Randall Edwards 2022

All Saints Day

Here’s this week’s #twentywordtuesday poem which is a re-working of C.S. Lewis’ last sentence from his sermon, “The Weigh of Glory.”