Poetry – All Pals together – John Phillips

All Pals together

 

Standing in lines, rank upon rank,

Shoulder to shoulder, all pals together.

The General, tall in the arrogance of uniform, medals and clichés;

For King and country. We shall prevail.

God on our side. We attack at first light.

Now turning away to return to his afternoon Port,

In a chateaux, six miles behind the lines.

 

Sitting in bunkers and dugouts, cold to the bone,

Shoulder to shoulder, all pals together,

Endlessly cleaning, lubricating, sharpening, waiting.

Waiting with the stench of the damp earth

And the gun-oil and the cigarettes

And the fear filled bodies.

Waiting for tomorrow.

 

Thunder before the dawn, shaking the earth,

Lightening the sky with colours;

Orange and white, hues of magenta, ghastly green,

Flickering through the smoke and on the cold steel

And silent faces of the waiting men.

Upward, on through the mud,

Shoulder to shoulder, all pals together,

Into the wire, coiled, angry-barbed

With the enemy response

Crashing in like a mighty ocean wave,

Washing them all away.

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