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Monster in a Ditch - a poem

Updated on January 20, 2010

Memory

a twisted iron monster born from a ditch

valves and tubes

snouts and claws

sucked from the mud – exhaled

the warplane is just an engine

my Dad and I look

me knowing, for him -

nearer memories

keener feelings

night time air raids from lost Germans

unable to find the East End of London

lightening their load to make it home

his uncles arriving from Dunkirk

armed and uniformed

sipping tea in the front room

muddied boots left at the door

socks sodden in sand and Channel water

for me

films and hearsay

eavesdropped stories from grown-ups’ memories

scattered maybes

and Discovery t.v.

(suddenly, (while sat on sofa sipping coffee, channel flicking) a black and white news footage of the ruins of a city centre I know as a fifties shopping precinct – all rubble except a square flint church tower)

It's easy to forget how precious our freedoms are and how many people suffered for us to enjoy them.

This poem is based on my memory of visiting a recently excavated Spitfire found buried in a field in Kent in the south east of England. I was quite young but it strikes me now, how in a relatively short space of time, our history is so quickly parcelled up and marketed. World War Two was a real thing for my Dad, even though he was only a boy, he can remember bombing and its devastation. For me, its an RAF badge my grandfather gave me, it's a Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan by Spielberg, it's the shock of realising how much of the centre of Canterbury was destroyed by seeing the short black and white newsreel around the flint church tower that remains today. It's the weirdness (thankfully) of thinking that a trip to France would have been a trip to the dark side of the world. That a German was an enemy.

I think we are beginning to see our forgetfulness in the events we see around the world today. Half a mile from my home are young men in a hospital without limbs. We shouldn't forget the reality.

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    • hotspur profile image
      Author

      hotspur 8 years ago from England

      Thanks Larry,given you were a proud former marine your comments have made my day...cheers!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Hotspur...Your moving poem belies your name...The experience of personally observing the literal digging up of memories of a war that took so many of that generation provides a concrete view of that time of struggle and death. A view to go with the stories told you by your family...a stark perspective brought to life and collaborating those wartime memories related...

      Thank you for this...Larry

    • hotspur profile image
      Author

      hotspur 8 years ago from England

      Hey Pachuca213 thanks for your comment, glad you felt it had some worth.

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 8 years ago

      What a touching poem....There are so many whose families were greatly impacted by WWII. What a sad but beautiful poem to touch on such a touchy subject.

    • hotspur profile image
      Author

      hotspur 8 years ago from England

      Exactly. Thanks for the comment Denny.

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 8 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      The reality of war is so very ugly, a stain on the soul. That's why it's so important to try and restrain, contain or resolve problems before they come to a need to go to war. You are so right that people need to stop and take at least a few moments every now and then to reflect upon those sacrifices and appreciate what others did for them!

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