Category Archives: Free Verse

Spring – A Military Allegory

Narrative

This morning I sat on my garden bench. For a short time the sun came from behind a dark cloud and I felt its warmth. My eyes were caught by a rank of snowdrops, brave insurgents striving to break winter’s pincer grip. Daffodils nodded agreement in the sharp wind. A robin burst out with his tic tic tic tst. This could be spring, I thought. And so to: 

Pennant

Snowdrops peek first over the parapet

Scouts for an army hidden in the trenches,

Pathfinders, first footers, feeling out the terrain,

To confirm conditions before signalling the advance. 

Spear tips appear, white pennants of the advancing host,

The initial task force, the vanguard visiting every nook

For a foothold, a foxhole of security between the trees,

For crocuses fearful of frost the deadly foe. 

Aconites, yellow berets already over the top,

The shock troops of the occupying forces fill pockets

Of resisting soil and open opportunities for the rear guard

Of daffodils to trumpet the taking of the salient. 

Now is the time for posses of primroses, ranks of tall tulips

Hyacinths, narcissus brazen in their colours,

Free from frost if fortune so favours, to celebrate

That for six sweet months the war with winter is over.

Harry Wells

Comments and Critiques are Welcome

 

 

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Sanctuary for a Wren

Wren

I found a tree with a knotty hollow
Inside the dark there rested a wren
Standing still with staring eyes wide open
Her plumage lacking lustre
Like a needle felt bird in a craft show
At twenty dollars but delicately made
Waiting in the moss, waiting for a lull
In the icy wind, waiting for the chance
To forage for food for her very life’s sake
I put out a careful finger caressed
The down on her red breast and dun hued head
She fell back, tiny claws, legs stretched up, stiff
Like telegraph poles without wires.
One more to add to millions of lonely deaths

Harry Wells

Please feel free to comment or critique

Odour of Elderflower

Aldwarke Bridge only

England 1943
Lizzie Callahan lived opposite my Irish grandmother. My grandma didn’t like the Callahans, She said they were common people. I thought they were just poor.
You will hear the word ‘bold’ in the poem. Where you might think this meant ‘brave’, to the Irish the word means naughty or in the case of young women, brassy or forward. The water, down by Aldwarke Farm, was the River Don in South Yorkshire The storyline is true.

I used to sit behind her at school
She was pale with a pigtail.
I used to count her vertebrae,
Number the lines of the darn
In her well-worn dress,
She was thin, undernourished.

She asked me one day
‘Would you go for a walk with me?’
Grandma said to say no!
‘She’s far too bold, I tell ye,
I know things about the Callahan’s.
You’ll be giving her a wide berth.
Heavens above! You’re no more than ten.’
But how could I refuse.

By the waterside we wandered
Where the elder blossom hung heavy.
‘Til we came to the weir where we turned
And walked in innocence while she told me
Things she had could tell no one else.
There was no one else she would trust.

‘Mi dad’s in the army.
Away in the war. Mam’s upset,
‘cause we’ve got no money’.

Ten years later when I met her again
She didn’t know me or anyone else,
Her eyes, black tarns where only sorrows lived,
Eyes you could fall into and drown,
Gazed into an empty pram.
‘Ah, you mean Lizzie Garret,
Lizzie Callahan that was,
Lost her baby. Lost her mind’
So they told me when I enquired.

But I will remember Lizzie Callahan
And sweet elder blossom.

Harry Wells

Comments welcome

Ginny Tickler

Rose Petals on Water
England. Nineteen forty three.

She had a wheelbarrow
A plain square box
With long wooden handles
And bicycle wheels.

She had a beautiful face and a woolly hat
Fourteen, sweet, innocent and mute.
In the words of the era,
She was not all there.

She collected vegetable parings
A war-time measure to feed pigs.
When she saw children playing
She would stop and wait and smile.
Always on the edge, looking through
An invisible barrier at a fairy story.

Boys would tease though not hurtfully
The girls would say, ‘No! Leave her alone’.
They understood more.
Once only, I touched her finger tips
As through a sheet of glass.
And loved her across the divide.

She went home one dark afternoon,
Taking a short cut by the canal towpath.
They found her body face up in the water
Surrounded by floating potato peelings
That should have been rose petals.

Will she be there with other angels
In a place where the curtain has been lifted,
The haze removed and clarity reborn
I hope so. There are things I need to tell her.

Harry Wells

Comments welcome

Insomnia

Why Ask

We fight, insomnia and I

Five past three middle of the night

Three more hours ‘til my morning tea

I’ll go downstairs, shiver with cold

Sink into my old soft armchair

All wrapped up and watch for the pink

Of the sun’s first peep below clouds

Before I drift deliciously

Ironically into sleep.

Harry Wells
Comments welcome