Remembrance at the 11th Hour on the 11th Day…

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I Will Remember My Father
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I Will Remember Those that Gave their Todays
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I Will Remember Our Tomorrows

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

(For a really good post about Armistace in Southampton follow this link)

Remembrance

Poppies

Watts Park leaves fall softly from tall sycamores

fluttering like wounded birds

perch briefly on broad-shouldered uniform

before landing on sodden ground

conkers and grass compressed in to mud

by platoons of polished black boots

Remembrance poppies

Our Civic Centre clock chimes:

‘O God our help in ages past

Our hope for years to come…’

Bishop of Southampton delivers solomn sermon,

and there’s poppies, poppies, poppies…

But my thoughts slip away to you dear Father

medals

I have recycled your values

composting leaves, endlessly reprocessing

The earth reminds me of your grave.

I think of battle fields

bomb craters and dugouts became giant puddles

and there’s soldiers, soldiers, soldiers

Who would volunteer to become a soldier?

You did dear Father

Lied about your age so you could enlist

to join your regiment of pals

blasting out ‘Reveille’ or ‘The Last Post’ on your bugle

marching bravely in your correct-angled beret

through streets of England and Malta

through deserts of Egypt and Burma

over mountains in India and Italy

for Crown and Country

for your neighbours and family

for us that we may live in hope of peace

Southampton Cenotaph

November 11th,  2013

Portsmouth

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Good Morrow Old Pompey! 

How the Dickens thee be?

Southampton stops by this fine Summer’s day.

After cash-jab and face-lift, looks young and healthy

I calls on thee ‘Neighbour’,

but ‘Scummer!’ ye names me 

Thee Royal Navy and I Merchant Sea

Yet ye stole my ferry passengers

And should-be-mine bananas fatten your docks

I sings out: “Daylight Come and I Want go home”.

“What Shall We do with a Drunken Sailor?” is your repost

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Come jolly Jack Tar

slap my back if I slaps thine

Chants we more o’them shanties

and buy me a bevvy

at Spice Island Tavern

we’ll sup to “fair ladies”

my Queens and Princesses

your grand Ark Royals

and here’s to Lord Admiral Nelson

and his flagged Victory.

Your rum and brandy, my wine and beer

We feast on mackerel – all sprightly silver,

 like 30 pieces, or was that of eight?

Lament our great losses:

My tragic Titanic

Your dear Mary Rose. 

Evoke Dunkirk spirit –

How we did save them

by the thousand

How we did fight them

shoulder to shoulder

against the French, and on D-Day, the Blitz …

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Let’s parade to bagpipes along your old battlements

Lungs refresh’d

with Southsea salt-air,

We skiff English pebbles

aim for Spitbank

and against that greasy-grey grave of great sea.

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Thee, and thy gulls, have welcomed me 

And now I must bid fare-thee-well and Adieu..

Let’s stay always Mateys

And repay my Southampton a visit

real soon.

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Note: I wrote this after visiting friends in Portsmouth, about half an hour’s ride away. Historically Southampton and Portsmouth have always been rival ports. It is only heard in football match chants nowadays. But the two cities have always pulled together hard against common enemies.