Sunday, June 15, 2008

“Careless Talk Costs Lives” 02 June 2008

They were both soldiers
in different wars
History is written by the victors
so theirs were a worthy cause
both lucky and unlucky
to have made it through alive
to have made their hearts immune
to the misery by their side

Reg, from 1898
lied about his age
life imitates Auden
the trenches were his stage
the helmet with a bullet dent
stood in the Garden Shed
it was not The Hun - but old age
that claimed him in a Eighties Bed

His dog, half-blind
loyally ran to strangers in the park
expecting bemused old men, half-losing their minds
to recognise an alien, friendly bark
I was only fourteen
I knew nothing of life
I dreamed of girls
When he was my age, he had the same dreams.

When he was in the mud, and the blood
And never knowing if the next minute was the last
I was up to no good
At the age his friends saw their last sunrise
I was living my life too fast

My other grandfather boiled
Directing traffic in the Sahara as Rommel’s Nemesis
He came back, perpetually cold
Sweating jumpers in August
The crosshairs twitched as he ignored the sand in his moustache
A fraction right or left, then load the barrel -
And the shell was dispatched
Loose lips sink ships
And careless talk costs lives
Were the lucky ones the ones who survived?