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Poetry Magnum Opus

Dreams of the dead


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We had come from the great war of men,
the dead were with us now. They had their ways,
hand on your shoulder, whisper in your ear,
steal your watch when you turn your back.
   I was there
       we all were
we have a way of meeting, of what we left behind,
mother and father, the sweet words at night,
things we walked away from, marched, anyway,
but there they are, the dead have their own ghosts.

Modernity dragging its big arse across the fields,
the boy trapping rabbits for his mum
what did he know about perdition?
The man and the panicking horse, the men running,
we saw the ghosts, we saw them before they came,
whey-faced, trembling as they drank the rum,
a strip of blue sky above, then night.
Eighteen thousand dead that day;
the sharp blade between the ribs, you have to push hard.

Those thoughts, we didn’t chose them but they were ours,
sometimes chilling a room, a wind slamming the door,
creaking on the stairs, weeping in the mirror,
a house with a hundred windows, a hundred ways of looking.

I dragged him up against the wall,
he was drunk, we all were,
sixteen years and shot to death at dawn.
The farmer was there, ploughing his fields
the woman hanging her washing,
the guns were blasting away,
poor boy just wanted to go back home.

A sunset, a beautiful woman, a child singing,
it’s just a window, there’s so many,
even when the house comes down.
The dreams of the dead,
I hear them every night.


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