Having read a bunch of poetry on Jeffrey Holler's website ( moving stuff for anyone who cares ) I thought of a poem I wrote just after I'd done a tour in Northern Ireland in 1970. It's taken a little while to dig out the manuscript of all the shit I penned back in those days as a young Royal Engineer. Stuff I still don't have the heart to chuck away after 40 years of dragging it round half the Northern Hemisphere.
Hope you enjoy this one Jeffrey. I don't normally touch serious. Sometimes it gets a bit too close.
Death of a Friend
Walks slow; the street, silent
in the cold night air.
Dark shadows hold the dangers,
can't see them but they're there.
Stops at every hungry doorway,
every greedy corner on the block.
Scared, shaking, hesitates.
Doesn't hear the Armalite cocked.
Fails to see the barrel
pointing mockingly at his breast
never heard the whistle of the round
that smashed into his chest
Now the not so silent streets
too late, echo the siren's wail
While the moon reflects bewilderment
on the soldiers face, so pale
I knelt down beside him
tears streaming from my eyes
and though I'm not relgious
I prayed, 'Lord don't let him die
The only friend I have
He's committed no sin
There's only one mistake he's made
dressed in the clothes he's in.
Coming here to Ireland
as a soldier of the Queen
so proud of a fucking uniform
and he's only seventeen
M. Wells (July 1970)