Another poem from John Phillips from his book ‘Shorts and Shots’.
306 were the number of soldiers executed by the British in the First World War. The reason given was desertion or cowardice. Many may well have been suffering from shell-shock.
306 – by John Phillips
Into the darkling, drizzling dawn;
Into the early-morning grey.
Strong arms to counteract the weakling legs,
He soiled himself,
But no-one notices and no-one cares.
Duty is King and Country;
Duty is all.
Blind to compassion, blind to emotion and fear.
Blinded to reason and doubt,
To conscience and remorse.
Into the empty morning.
Empty the faces that surround him;
Empty the words to define, to justify, to absolve.
Only the casket, the post, the pock-marked wall.
Only the blindfold and the final cigarette.