Poppies: a lesson



You never really just see one poppy by itself.

It is normally clustered together with others

Whatever the weather.

So it was then.

Even when one fell on those desolate plains, feeling very much alone and afraid they died together, they tried together

Yes they lived together,

They fought together and died together on these desolate plains.

Their blood stained uniforms, their wounded flesh, their hearts overwhelmed by the depravity of death.

Yes, they lived together, they fought together

One. By. One.

They fell.

The sons. The boys. The men.

Not toy soldiers

But real men with flesh and bone

Yes they died together, laid in stone

for us

to live together … In peace.


© E. Henry, 2018.

There have been many poems written about the Great World War and subsequent wars. Many, such as Wilfred Owen, spoke of real men and women with flesh and blood. He was one of the main reasons I became a poet – I wanted to write of reality (even grim reality) in a way that spoke compassionately.

In writing this poem, I couldn’t help but feel like… Why are we still making the same mistakes? Why are governments in various lands making choices that bring immense suffering to their people? Why are there millions living and dying for the chance to live in peace?

Christians have been given a ministry of reconciliation.

How are we doing with that?

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