Haiku: Heaven’s Host

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Eternal battle
There is only one victor
Bless all the angels

Copyright Francis 2020

Haibun: The Long Game

playing rock game chess
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The silence is deafening,
tension taught as the tightest string.
We face not armies
but a hidden host
against whom we play
the game of our lives.

Who is first to blink?
Chequerboard duality
Playing the long game

copyright Francis Barker 2020

Haibun: Keeping The Faith

silhouette image of person praying
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In the heat of battle
it’s easy to lose faith.
Give up, run away.
Watch something else,
bury your head in the sand
and pretend it isn’t real,
like a movie scaring you
which can be frozen any time.

It won’t go away
This hiatus must be faced
Remain in our faith

copyright Francis Barker 2020

Haibun: War is Never Civil

united-states-of-america-flag-905191
Photo by Gerritt Tisdale from Pexels

Some arresting civil war portraits,
they are not easy to share.
Two young men posing awkwardly,
bow ties for battle, their absent smiles
due to the long exposure.
A picture may say a thousand words
but raises profound questions too.
It’s brother versus brother,
one in blue, the other in gray
and no quarter will be given,
courtesy of sponsors miles from the front.
There’s no fear in their eyes,
only the vacancy of open fields.
They will show allegiance to their flag,
let’s hope it protects them.
Both think their causes are just,
but many have come this way
and many more will follow –
in the name of liberty.
Their country may need them
but is it theirs?

These faded pictures
Forgotten names of young men
Sacrificial pose

copyright Francis Barker 2020

*To the uninitiated, a haibun is the combination of a prose poem and a haiku.

 

Sunday Poem: The Blooded White Rose

black and white nature flowers close up view
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The car parked marked with an R,
as if your spirit had hovered 
for half a millenium to mark 
the deconsecrated spot. 
A few inches either side 
and you may have been lost forever, 
though there was little chance of that, 
so precisely did you engage with the living, 
the aggrieved who wished to dig up 
your true reputation 
with those poignant bones. 
The sight of that curved spine, 
it touched our hearts, 
wincing at the thought of you 
holding a sword and swinging it, 
yet swing it you did 
to save your country, your soul. 
The wounds so clear, 
graphically revealed the ignominy 
of your passing, the blood lust 
and hate of those thrusting 
at the legally occupied throne. 
History is just a story, after all, 
to which most of us consent, 
but I think of you often, Richard, 
the bloody white rose 
cut too soon on a dark August day.

copyright Francis Barker 2020

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On This Day 218 BC: Hannibal Routs the Romans at Trebia

temple of hercules at the amman citadel jabal al qal a
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The first serious encounter of the Second Punic War ended in a decisive victory for Hannibal and his Carthaginian army at Trebia in northern Italy in 218 BC. Whilst the Carthaginian losses were relatively few, the Romans sustained massive casualties, quite possibly losing up to three quarters of their 40,000 strong army.

Although Hannibal was to ultimately fail in defeating the Romans in the long term, he came very close to succeeding. The Punic Wars were all about who controlled the Mediterranean and beyond. In the early years the Carthaginians were masters of the region, with settlements in Sicily and Spain, as well as their burgeoning homeland in north Africa.

When Rome began to flex its muscles and seriously rival the Carthaginians during the third century BC, war was inevitable. Hannibal famously took the war to the Romans with an incredible invasion with a massive elephant led army through the Alps and into Italy, an audacious attempt to finish off the Romans once and for all. It nearly came off – but not quite.

Eventually, as the Romans later got the upper hand, they were to literally wipe Carthage off the map in one of the most heinous acts of revenge ever seen.

copyright Francis Barker 2019