Commentary – Blank Spaces in the Column

Deepest sympathy and endless salutes for all who in troubled times waved a final farewell to loved ones bound for duty.

There are no winners  

No matter age or season, the God of War is never far away
One small chink in a tribe’s armour, and there’s a price to pay 
Soon or late, victory or defeat; winners and losers mourn for their dead 
Stolen by war and carried to the Altar; all draped in national thread

Time heals a nation’s guilt as the planet spins and spins    
Harsh lessons of war fade mid opulence and social din         
No matter time or whatever war, the terrible grief of kin is the same 
Memories of vibrant life chilled by cold stones with lists of names

While in many a home, there’s proud history in precious frames to show
Of personal pain and grief suffered by loved ones as scribed below

      Many Spaces in the Column

“It seems so long since you went away
How I miss you so, each and every day
I watched when your unit marched through familiar streets
A welcome home parade with cheering crowds, drums and marching feet 

I saw once young faces, now weary and aged from terrible trials 
And pretended that I could see you in the ranks; if only for a short while 
Alas, my dearest soldier boy, you were not there, and it seemed so unfair 
I could not share the joy and happiness around me; here, there, everywhere 

I still hear the postman’s whistle and praying he would stop at our gate.
Your dreams for our tomorrows I read often into nights so late
Then came a grim faced messengers knocking on the door
I knew before they told me, that that our sweet tomorrows were no more  

Today, the streets are crowded, and forgotten by most are yesterday’s scenes 
Yet I still see your last wave, from where you should have been  
Always is the faint familiar beat of drums and tramp of military feet
Even though the green column has long ago left the street”

                And of tomorrow?

A troubled world; once more screams and shouts with clenched fists held high
God’s values neglected and national unity cast aside as time creeps by
Is history to be repeated, yet again to defend our freedom at terrible cost?
Will today’s Suits be stirred from sleep before it’s too late and all is lost?

The dark clouds are gathering again, far distant from our shores
Chances are to steal today’s youth, so many dreams, and much more
Soon, perhaps another sea of young faces on parade, marching off to war 
And on return, the same terrible grief, and political snoring as before.

George Mansford © November 2021

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