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Mike Douse: Armistice

Armistice

Mike Douse

The Royal British Legion sold over forty-six million poppies this year

They must sport poppies, those who’re on the BBC. Mayhap
The same for ITV and Sky – I haven’t checked with them.
[The Chinese are bemused by aides-mémoires that bloom upon
The lush lapels of merchants, ministers and our PM.]

It is not hard to honour those who left their lives or limbs
On ‘just cause’ battlefields – when all (including rebels) rose
With swords in hand against the Nazi foe, and found through friends
A readiness to die. I readily remember those.

We all have ancestors who carried arms for countries, kings
Or queens (but, in effect, for commerce and the CBI);
Is it for them that I must bear the artificial bloom
And fall in line, much as we had to weep for Princess Di?

I wear no poppy, never have, I’m not sure why. Perhaps
It’s egotistic cussedness. I seek not to offend,
Nor make some vain, sententious point. Respect
For who perished, heedless of the reason, has no end.

I likewise stand in silence by the empty tomb. I watch
The wheel-chaired men roll by. For me, too close this sacred rite,
Too near the buglers’ notes – recruitment amidst remembrance,
In times of unwise, unjust wars – to further calls to fight.