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A C Clarke: Silence

Remembrance Day Nov 11

They do it for us
those bareheaded leaders
in greatcoats,
fixed in black and white
since the eleventh hour
in front of the great white
sham as they wait for the drumroll
of heavy artillery, the scream
of flypast.

They believe themselves
as those did who shot lads
at dawn, wrote letters
I regret to say your son…
perform prescribed rites
to sanctify
desert patrols, the tedium
of death-in-waiting
the two minute frenzy
that leaves a child in ruins.
They do it for us
so that we need not hear
the question in a poppy
white as a corpse
the confused cries
of those set free to die
the old lie, the old lie.

They do it for us
sporting their poppies
like novice hunters blooded.
Nothing is said. Not here.
Not in the villages
whose obelisks, obscure with names,
carry their complement of sodden wreaths.
Not in libraries, schools, prisons.

Break this silence,
break ranks.