Alfred Went to War

by Clark Cook 

this man
shrugged casually
with all the other
smooth young men

who yawned their
eager eyesooooto war
then died in
snow and mud
by frozen blank-eyed horses
the day before
to haul their bone racks
to the clapboard and tin
field hospitals


after millions
the generals met
oooodeclaredooo a winner
oooocellaredooo their fine wines and trophies
ooootoldooo the remaining young men

to go ooohome

important old men
bellies and Medals
regretted the inconvenience
but none said
‘Thank You’
to the few remaining

oooooimportant old men
ooooohate the echote the echo
of their words
oooooin empty rooms

this man went home as casually as he left
the town threw a parade with
balloons and a band
cheerleaders and speeches
and sally wilson did-him-standing-up
behind City Hall
under a huge
orange harvest moon

all he remembered was the balloons

he tried to grasp
why he’d gone away
they told him it was for
and country
and honour

all he remembered was
the blood-bite of razor wire
ooothe swirl of metallic bile
oooin his mouth
the dulling weight
of his own skin
dragging him into
the constant ooze

This man went away a casual boy
came back a broken casual toy
in a man’s body
dreaming through the parade,
the speeches
d r e a m i n g
mostly about balloons

drifting in magic and laughter
rippling like slow-dragged silk across the
shattered fields and broken hopes
on the brocade couch
in the General’s
ooooooooplanning room

© clark cook

About the author:

Clark Cook talked about literature with Canadian university students for over 30 years, and was actually paid to have so much fun. Retired now, he writes (mostly) poetry and fiction (working on two novels). His poetry has been awarded three first-prizes in publishers’ competitions since 2014. Clark’s poetry weaves through the great myths, memories, and landscape on threads of image and metaphor to open potential new ways of Seeing for his readers. Maybe. If everything’s working. The poet and a son’s family co-occupy a home in the Vancouver area.

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