Below are two poems I have written which I may enter into an upcoming competition The competition challenges the writer to explore the concept of national identity, by responding to how it is portrayed in the works of WWII Poets.
I chose Timothy Corsellis’ poem – News Reel of Embarkation
The antagonism between fighting for one’s country and fighting for one’s own life. You’re walking into battle without a care in the world, Corsellis relays the all too knowing realities of war, his wisdom – a bid to wipe the smiles off the young soldiers naive faces.
Timothy Corsellis’ poem questions how you can be so giddy heading off to war – pre-war feelings
My two poems in response to his, focus on post-war feelings – how you can be struck with trauma (post traumatic stress disorder), a loss of self-identity, a loss of home.
P(lay) T(oy) S(oldiers) D(addy)
I fought for my country,
I fought for my life.
I’m now at home in my country.
But I’m not at home in my mind.
I’m lost back out at battle,
I’m battling my inner demons everyday.
The war may be over to the outward eye,
Yet within me it never ends.
What is unfamiliar to you is home for me,
Hearing the tear of flesh,
As you wash your sheets.
Feeling the last breath of a friend on my cheek,
As your mouth feeds.
You can never see what I had to see.
All for a piece of metal, for a so-called identity.
The title itself reflects the innocence of a child, a child who looks up to their father for support and leadership, meanwhile the parent is suffering from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Hiding his pain from his child. From the world as best he can.
I HAVE A HOME,
IT’S 53 BELVEDERE RD,
IT HAS A BIG TREE OAK,
AND A BIG CHIMNEY THAT SMOKES.
MY CHILDREN, THEY PLAY IN THE GARDEN,
BEANEATH THE BIG OAK TREE,
MY WIFE, IS SUNBATHING EFFORTLESSLY,
AND IT IS THERE SHE WAITS FOR ME.
I DO ONEDAY, HOPE THAT I RETURN,
TO THE FAMILY I LEFT BEHIND.
TO HAVE MET MY FATE AT THE END OF A BARREL,
MAY HAVE BEEN MY ONLY WAY TO FIND,
ATLEAST THAT WAS HOW I USE TO THINK,
WHEN I USE TO THINK AND FEEL.
NOW ALL I FEEL IS THE WET COLD GROUND,
AND THE CHALKY TASTE OF PILLS.
IT’S WEIRD HOW I FOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE,
BUT YOU DON’T EVEN NOTICE MINE.
YOU WALK PASSED ME ON THE SIDE OF THE STREET.
MAYBE YOU JUST DON’T HAVE THE TIME.
So many of our veterans are suffering. The Mirror has reported that atleast 13,000 soldiers are left homeless after serving. Shouldn’t government funding go towards getting them off the street than on painting parks and leaf blowing?
The fact that the poem has no set rhythm between verses emphasises the disillusionment the war veteran is experiencing, lost flow reflects his sense of losing his family, his home and himself (his identity).
Poem order: normality – he had a home a sense of place, he went to war and lost himself, scarred by the trauma, on return he struggled to cope, he became a recluse, thought it better to end his life by overdose, but now doesn’t even have the effort for that. He is numb to any emotion. He sits on our street corners, we walk by not batting an eye for a man/woman who has in actual fact saved our lives. They’ve lost their identity, but haven’t we lost part of our own? Haven’t we as a society lost our morals?