W O E

We remember servicemen who died at war
but what of their mates freaked to the core
From sights, sounds and smells
Far greater than hells?

We train them to kill
And by giving them this skill
We tear out their soul and send them insane
No idea that this causes eternal pain!

Their partners and offspring
Always live on the edge
Not sure of their anger about to blow
Scared should they come or should they go?

At reunions they drink to oblivion
Only recalling good times they had
Forever avoid talk of killing
Trying to forget they are immortally SAD!

In group therapy they share
First and worst kill whilst they were there
Brains splattered on boots
Family photos personalised ‘gooks’.

Recurring visions of whole villages staked out
VC started with babies, the young, then the stout
Elders left last to watch and cry
Slow screaming torture as kin pray to die!

Sailors who dragged up and down the coast
Firing bombs of phosphorous at most
Knowing they’d killed many families
Whilst both sides slept in their bunks

Transporting young soldiers over to war
Knowing that far less would return home to shore
How do they live knowing all this
Seething with anger and sealed with a kiss …

Pilots dropped bombs but don’t see a face
Their flight schedules set at a pace
Scarce time to reflect and understand
The great slaughter they’ve done first hand

Returning home they don’t sleep at night
Tossing and turning, wanting to fight
Wholesale killing leaves deep scars
These smart young men often die in fast cars

Somalia, Rwanda and Kosovo
Peacekeeping forces had to go
Men trained to kill
Never got to test this skill

Nineteen year olds saw hundreds slaughtered
Young women and children ran to them screaming
Unable by law to fire a bullet!
Heroine and poly drugs seem suitable escape

What hope have these fit, handsome young men?
No partner will ever understand them!
Totally alienated from our trite society
Yet we continue to train them in great variety?

No one but gun-runners benefit from war
So why do we send young ones from our shore?
Too many civilians raped, killed or maimed

But we general citizens continue to shirk blame …

Thanks for sharing, you are all heroes!  ccc 18.5.2005

April 25th is ANZAC Day, this poem comes from years of work with returned service men and from being a descendant of cannon fodder.  November 11 is Remembrance Day

25.4.17 two news articles on the impact of war on our defence personnel – an Afghan Vet at 27yo – and how society shunned our traditional landowners war service – shame!

Feature photo is how they displayed my poem in the regional art gallery for four months.

 How has war impacted on your family and life?

50 comments

  1. These are the deep scars of those who served and suffer the consequences, scars that can only be healed by facing the reality, more effective in a group, and by helping others! To enable meaning in life …

    Political decisions to enter conflicts are highly questionable!
    Am appalled by the incorrect sensational media reporting!
    My heart bleeds for the harm caused to so many – locals, defence personal, their families – for no realistic reason!

    Nobody wins any war, WAR is only about massive profits from weapon sales!
    We individuals need to create peace by calming ourselves and refusing to engage in any conflict – violence in any form is wrong, it harms our individual and national psyche.

    The excuses are shallow, please please say NO to war!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this poem, a reminder to remembrance.

    Both my father and uncle served in the Angolan war. My father was lucky, being stationed on the Caprivi he didn’t see much action, also mostly due to a spontaneous double lung collapse ( enter the family genetics there … yet try to convince him ).

    My uncle, unfortunately, was less lucky. He served in the police force during the conflict and they were called in to serve along side the regular military. You don’t has him about it and when you do, all he says is “We don’t talk about Angola” and his gaze becomes foreign and fear inducing. During his tour, they were sweeping an area and the sergeant behind him stepped on a landmine. My uncle took shrapnel to the back which plagued him most his life, and now, he is facing complete spinal fusion in the affected area at some point this year.

    My ex brother in law, though not having served in military action, was part of the “Flying Squad”. A specialist task force in the Police, trained to apprehend the most dangerous of criminals. His squad was filmed by a BBC news crew during the apprehension of hi-jacker’s. They only did what they were trained and told to do and for that they were dismissed in disgrace so that the Police force and the President could save face. They were hung out to dry, with now income, pension or aid for their cracked and broken minds.
    This was not a matter of crying police brutality, this was not a routine public arrest … this was lethal and brutal criminals whom, during the persuet, shot a pregnant lady in the stomach and one of the officers squarely in the trauma plate of his vest … meaning it was intended as a kill shot. There is no second chances for them when dealing with criminals. Most of the time, it is subdue or be the next victim. They do the dirty work … and the government wash their hands in innocence when their tactics came to light.

    No war is either clean or ‘humane’, no matter if it’s a border dispute, military action in aid of another nation or serving and protecting the public. Human rights may be in the best interest of the humanity, but unfortunately, it serves the criminals all too well.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So haunting and powerful….you’ve captured so much of the horror that impacts countless individuals, families, communities, and societies. Thank you for sharing, and for your focus on social enlightenment!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for the link, such a great poem, expresses the sadness so well, the powerlessness.

    My uncles and other elders were of the same opinion. Yes – we still fight, fighting the fight so to speak. The trauma of killing so kills the killer too I’ve noticed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You must have put yourself inside the heads of those suffering soldiers in order to write this heart-rending poem. Bravo.

    I’ve just realised that I’m repeating what your last commenter wrote.

    I’ve known a few soldiers who ended up on the streets after Afghanistan. The government turns it’s back on those who can’t cope with the things they’ve done and witnessed. Many of them slip into addiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve known a few soldiers who ended up on the streets after Afghanistan. The government turns it’s back on those who can’t cope with the things they’ve done and witnessed. Many of them slip into addiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Through your heart-wrenching words I’m feeling their awful internal pain, a powerful piece Kate, and sounds like going to write another one, and that you’ve Climbed Aboard.!! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am not sure why i missed this beautiful poem kate..but i am glad i am not missing it this time..hearing the news about the attacks in Sri Lanka made me connect so much with your poem here…in times like this, we thank our soldiers for waging a war (not even them knows why)..we thank them for keeping us ….but as you said they too are tormented..broken …hurt..and saddened by the effects of war…and mostly because they have to leave their families.
    Four of my siblings are in the military service and my mom always (always) worries for them..she never get used to being a military mom…and when my brother got killed in an operation…she too almost died weeping…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know that you had lost a brother, how very sad … did he have a family?
      This is an old poem but I repost it now for ANZAC day, our memorial. All my male family members were canon fodder in WWI n II 😦

      Like

      • He is married but they never had kids…he was such a loving uncle to my kids..he was brutally wounded and killed ..it was one of the toughest moments in our life..i barely talk about it because i am his favorite .we grew up together..we’re just months apart.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This poem is powerful and expresses well the alienation that the soldiers undergo in acts of war.
    BTW do you know the Anzac Day is celebrated near my town in France ( Amiens ) to commemorate the australians soldiers who won the battle of Amiens in 1918.

    There are battle that worth , for instance battle against poverty ..

    Love ❤
    Michel

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So heartfelt and heartbreaking as you describe what these veterans go through. The mental torment and trauma is destructive to them, and they’re never quite the same as they were before. It makes me think of one of the methods to treat PTSD after WWII: lobotomies.

    To treat severe mental trauma, lobotomies were thought at that time to help especially since the treatments we have today weren’t available then. The stories are horrible. I know a story personally where the soldier got a lobotomy, since none of the treatments they had were working for him and his severe trauma. He got a lobotomy, and because of that, he spent the rest of his life at a care facility.

    Kate, you are doing a service here by expressing the reality of not only the death caused from war, but its long-lasting effects on our veterans and soldiers who survive. Lives destroyed, people never the same as they once were; it really impacts personal relationships and the like. It hurts everyone involved, but it hurts the soldier the most.

    Thank you for writing this piece. It’s raw and real. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You captured the horrors of war and dished them up as a timely reminder, Kate. This year was a different Remembrance Day due to lockdown, but we still remembered. War is cruel.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Too much to say about how wars have impacted my family (and my friends.) Rich men will never be the ones who die in war. It will always loved ones, expendable to all but those who love them 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kate, this is strong patent truth. The wealthy old always send the young to do their warring. Sadly, as long as their are borders, greed will make certain there are wars. I’m in my 74th year, and war has always been in my lifetime and for all times. I openly and actively, through my rock bands, protested war in the ‘60’s snd ‘70’s. I still detest war, and have never, and will never, own a gun. They have only one purpose — to pierce the flesh of a living being and bring death. This bullshit about gun marksmanship as a hobby — if you truthfully don’t intend to use a gun to kill, then take up archery or darts.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This poem has such an impact: it is inhumane to do this to anybody, and all in the name of big money! Makes me think of Bob Dylan’s song ‘Masters of War.’ They’re the only ones who benefit.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. For me this was a difficult read …… in July of 1967 my husband shipped out for Vietnam. I was six months pregnant with our daughter, our fourth child ~ after three sons then ages 4, 5 and 6.
    A year of terror, for all, a return in July of 1968 and a man forever changed. Ultimately our family unit would not survive. However time heals, today I count him, his wife and daughters as best friends. And he is still my co-parent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wow Helen that is truly amazing that you kept that door open, well done coz I know it wasn’t easy!

      These are true stories from Vietnam, their wives didn’t even know but I had their permission to publish anonymously …

      Like

  15. This is heart-wrenching with a most important message that needs to spread. Many of us don’t realize the horrors when we send our young from the shore 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A powerful read! My husband was in the signal units not infantry but I believe any war will change a soldier and those who love them. The decision for combat should never be a first choice. Thanks for bringing attention to the mental challenges for those who have served!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You’ve written a chilling post that remains true for far too many. My husband’s uncle, a physicist before going to fight in WWII, came back and retreated to his upstairs bedroom in his mother’s home. Other than to go to use the bathroom’s facilities, he never came out of his room. He had a telescope there and even though he could only look out of a Chicago city window, that’s what he did for days on end. He was never the same.
    My cousin came back from Viet Nam and retreated to his mother’s upstairs guest room for many years. He eventually had counseling and did get a job as a truck driver….but he never returned to the young man who left for Nam.
    PTSD is devastating for so many families in so many ways….as you’ve indicated here.
    A powerful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Anguished spouses trying to understand and soothe the veterans, veterans disappearing inside of mind-altering substances, suicide by fast car, all peripheral casualties that seem to be forgotten when gathering statistics on the victims of war 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is the true and untold cost of war. As you say these people are trained not to be human, and they can’t reconcile this with their natural humanity. And the way they are treated afterwards is a disgrace.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. My goodness this is such an incredibly heavy duty poem! You portray the dilemma behind the aftermath of war with great precision. May there be peace for those who have endured more than necessary and for all.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “We train them to kill
    And by giving them this skill
    We tear out their soul and send them insane…”
    This was a powerful and sad bit of writing Kate. I was deeply touched by the passage above. We make them killers, and that scar is permanent. Thankfully some heal better than others.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. kaykuala

    No one but gun-runners benefit from war
    So why do we send young ones from our shore?
    Too many civilians raped, killed or maimed
    But we general citizens continue to shirk blame …

    You strike it right Calmkate. The horrors of war impinge on everyone, those who went to war as well as those at home. All are affected particular to each one. Still, the war is waged for some reasons often made belief reasons to justify the onslaught. Wonderful wordcraft and rhyming!

    Hank

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Powerful, and very well said. I think it’s too easy to trivialise the pain, and judge those who take orders when you’ve never been in that sort of situation yourself.
    I work with ADF TOs, and I hate to think of what might happen to them – of what might be done to them and what they might have to do, and what orders they might be given and what orders they may have to give.

    the culture comes from above.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s