Poem ‘Another Day in Helmand’

Another Day in Helmand

He joined willingly
and has no complaints.
This is the life he chose.
He signed on the dotted line

knowing the score from day one;
about the low rates of pay
and the invisible enemy
who won’t play by the rules.

And show me where they said
all the equipment would be there,
that it would be all up to date.
There were benefits, too;

he was lauded several times by
flying visits of premiers and ministers,
who stood squinting in the sun
praising his courage, his skill,

in the best army in the world.
Yes, the cause was just,
his presence there directly protected
those he loved back home:

Our freedom, our democracy.
Yes, it was tough but he knew
he would have a trade,
something to contribute,

something solid to show
for his service to a grateful country,
plus a good pension to fall back on.
Now, not everyone has that.

I saw him the other day
admiring poppies in the sun,
to the clatter of pans and plates,
the warming sounds of Sunday lunch.

He’d been reading the paper
and that’s where I saw the
map of Helmand province
thrusting up into that rugged land,

where his life was changed
and such medals were won –
and where his legs were lost.

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012

* first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, which can be found at amazon.com

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