Tanka: Awoken

war battle middlage
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

I was awoken
Truth hit me like a great weight
The old world was gone
Legions of ghostly soldiers
Gathered to deliver truth

copyright Francis Barker 2020

Poem ‘Underground’

Underground

By night the town paints clandestine shapes,
broach spires pierce a black arras
and decorated naves of Barnack rag
drape like sepia backcloths for ghosts
and revellers who may pass unaware
on equal terms, merely inches
yet centuries above charcoal rivers
channelled underground,
flushing silently till the night
draws out heat
and chatter of day

Streets swarm with strangers now,
unspeaking shadows in recesses
cupping whispers of gamy tongues,
smoking pipes like brittle bones
with fresh memories of tides
and the deep keeled boats
dragged up onto gravel headlands
by gangs of gruff rovers
and rippling Thracian soldiers
from legions awake to chance,
their unwrested sin

poem and image © copyright dfbarker 2012

Poem ‘Safe Distance’

Trench Warfare, General Conditions: A party of...
Image via Wikipedia

Safe Distance

Another old soldier who never speaks.
Sitting stiffly in braces and polished leather,
his medals left in bric-a-brac drawers

with sovereigns and half crowns,
concealing the nugget –
the tale worth telling from this safe distance.

A story of a corporal who carried
a limp subaltern from no man’s land
to safety through a Belgian quagmire.

Lieutenant Turnbull was a right bastard,
but no point in resentment or fear
when a bullet could tear through your head

at any time. Simply had to do it and get on.
His blank eyes, though still blue,
cannot disguise the bare brown soul,

like the pounded landscape, the kit bag
he carries around everywhere.
Until the lights go out.

© copyright df barker 2012
First published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com