The Seven Echoes
Crossing her on stairs,
Stairs up to her new life, stairs
Down – my next posting.
Bustle on the stairs,
Lonely silence waiting for me.
No sound, no goodbye.
I don’t want to go.
Always passing by your side.
I don’t want to go.
Off he goes to work.
Saw him for only a moment –
Could have been our last.
We sit together,
The memories emerging,
As the sky grows dark.
Was really fighting.
Was one of the lucky ones.
Through the good and bad,
Friendship: an unbreakable bond.
Good guys, a bad life.
My best friend’s death’s anniversary
Is a day where
I talk about death
And I talk about the bombs,
And bonfire night fireworks;
Is a day where I go shopping
With a plan – get in, get it done, get out;
Is a day where I could talk to someone
Or not talk to someone;
Is a day where life never stops,
They were not friends to me, our soldiers lost.
They were not my allies, our soldiers lost.
They were not my colleagues, our soldiers lost.
They were my family, they understood.
I can’t talk to anybody, they’re no good.
I wake up in the night, screaming for their lives,
Panting to the rhythm of gunfire
Or marching through mud, deafened by the sounds.
But I shall not forget my family,
The brave family that I have lost.
Three of us are left,
Three who saw the suffering,
Three who were lucky.
A man that is proud,
Proud to be him,
Proud of his job,
Proud that he lives.
A man that is strong,
Strong from the sea,
Strong from his job,
Strong for his family.
A man who has seen,
Seen many great things,
Seen all different places,
Seen burial at sea.
A man who is home,
Home with his wife,
Home with his kids,
No more lonely nights.
Reaching out, but you’re not there.
Reaching out, you don’t care.
Reaching out for a past unscathed.
Reaching out so our relationship can be saved.
Reaching out for the insomnia never to have begun.
Reaching out with nowhere to run.
Reaching out for an anchor to harbour your heart.
Reaching out for hope for the deaths to never start.
Reaching out for the war with myself to end.
Reaching out for you, my confidant, my friend.
The light dims, the darkness thrives,
On goes the fight to stay alive,
But inside I’m still dead.
I had ambitions, lifelong pursuits
To be the best.
Life was my chess board and I had all the moves.
The army was my pathway leading where to go.
I would jump,
I would fly,
I would fall from the sky,
I would swim,
I would do anything.
It’s a one in a thousand chance,
But I’d done it –
One thousand jumps –
It was bound to happen,
Smashing my hips and my ambition.
You sail on, that’s what you do.
You do your job, whatever it is –
Anchors, cables, ropes, pulleys.
You go ashore when you’re off duty,
Find the nearest bar,
Sail on in. Sink a few.
If it comes, that letter,
You sail on. You get over it.
You get on with it.
You sail on.
The role of an anchor is not for me,
So thank you for letting me go
And making yourself free.
Sally, I don’t blame you for choosing love which is
Right for you.
But don’t forget,
I chose my path too –
I chose the life of a sailor,
The life of which I always dreamed.
You wanted my heart to be yours.
I wanted our country to be ours.
Digging up bodies,
Youngsters as young as sixteen,
Like nothing I’ve seen.
I buried the bodies,
Despite blood and guts.
I served my country.
I’ll never forget.
‘Just doing my duty,’
Says the man with his mind at sea
And his heart at home,
Swimming against the tide to try to reach serenity,
But a drop in the ocean cannot fly; neither can I,
So I do my duties on my ship,
Not letting my worries or hopes slip,
In fear that they’ll wash against the shore
Of a country I don’t want to sail to anymore.
Forever in the moment,
Blocking the nightmares –
Shut away the pain,
Hide your darkest memories,
Laugh to hide tears.
War never ceases
For the people who survive.
It never leaves you.
Like an old television –
A constant vision.
I’m riddled with scars,
But not just on the outside –
They cut very deep.
With every man plunged into war,
Your mind becomes battered and sore.
Every life that is taken
A shock to the system,
Held aloft by the oldest of laws.
A whispered goodbye, mental block in place.
A kiss on the cheek can mean a thousand words.
Life moves in a constant cycle,
The wind blows and the sea churns,
The ground groans beneath us.
The graveyard is filled.
Maybe you’re not far behind,
Blocking out the world.
Shut away the pain,
Hide the medals out of sight.
Can’t leave friends behind.
The fireworks blaze in the sky
Like bombshells striking metal,
As if they are celebrating our
An anniversary of fervent longing.
The crowd is celebrating.
The crowd is trembling.
The crowd is crying.
The scent of burning filling my nostrils.
Just a firework.
Not much celebration when senses are numbing my
The crackle of a rocket sprinkles colours.
The screech of a bomb sprinkles limbs.
War is a palace,
A palace of crumbling walls,
Archaic, primal – majesty –
Majesty, you say,
For queen, for country.
War is a rose,
Thorny on a coffin top,
Scratching incessantly into something smooth.
Those who talk the least
Say the most, suffer in silence.
The present is here, yet
Surrealism is near.
I don’t really like talking about it,
But I suppose that sometimes I have to.
Yet even then things can stick at the back.
They don’t want to come out, they don’t need to,
Like locked chests where someone has lost the keys.
Cut out memories.
Friends and lives left behind.
Nightmares still haunting
I’ve only come so far,
With my friends behind me,
Trailing lines of blood.
Cut out memories,
Letting silence take me.
Nightmares still haunting.
It was my duty,
Giving back the respect the soldiers deserve.
It was an honour to serve for my country.
Stand tall and carry on.
I couldn’t have missed it.
I couldn’t have stayed in the cycle of life.
Work, eat, sleep, and not live.
Only three of us.
We are the lucky ones.
Together all time.
It’s our destiny
To never say a thing,
Save the younger ones.
I see myself in a mirror.
Who am I?
I am a soldier, I am brave, bold.
In the water you see experience,
You are an eighty-year-old man:
Jump, push, educate, travel, love –
The rush to feel everything at once.
Time runs like water, slipping sands.
The mirror cracks.
I see myself in the mirror.
Who am I?
My reflection is split.
I am incomplete, I am lost,
Stumbling around in the dark
Until I can piece myself together again.
Four of us last month,
But the laddie who ran it
Even when I’m home
It doesn’t go away.
Young, fresh-faced, sweet and dead.
The beauty of youth can still be made out.
But no sympathy must be given.
How did they go? Did they know each other?
Did one hold the other as they passed on?
Are their families grieving? Do they know of this news?
No, no sympathy should be given.
- That’s what I am taught to think.
Taught to believe.
Taught to preach.
Even if they are young,
Even if the beauty of youth has not left their faces,
They are the enemy.
How did they go? Did they have each other?
What about their aspirations?
All questions that should not bother me,
Because they are the enemy.
You get pushed down,
Yet you pick yourself up.
You’ve been through a lot,
Yet you still prepare yourself for worse.
Many deaths you’ve witnessed,
But you realise that could be you,
Yet you pick yourself up,
Again and again.
One day you’ll come at peace,
Your heart will be out there,
But you pick yourself up
And just move on.
Forget about the world
You’ve come to know –
Just hold on,
Then let go.
Let it drift out to sea.
It was a thousand to one
And it happened:
One hundred feet,
Femurs crashing through hips;
My life and ambitions
Crashing through the floor
To the sound of a slammed door.
But I was the one who made it –
One minute a soldier, and then . . .
What am I now?
Looking back on the good times,
I felt the rush, the exquisite, explicit excitement.
I was an adventurer, unstoppable, unbreakable.
Nothing could stop me and I wouldn’t stop.
But then I did. I stopped.
I was lost, no longer a soldier, but still a fighter.
Now the good times are a memory shared alone.
I don’t look broken, but maybe I am.
A life still left to live, a reflection of what it was.
Broken adventurer, unstoppable still.
It’s easy to remember,
It’s hard to forget,
From the last time I saw them,
To when they returned,
Sculpted from the past.