The known soldier

I am the known soldier.

Not for me, the bowed heads of politicians,

The lowered flags,

The plaintive lament of the bugler.

I have people who grieve for me,

A mother’s tears water

the wilting flowers on my grave.

I have a father, brothers, sisters

To drape my portrait in black.


I am the known soldier.

I have a previous history,

A CV of patriotic tales,

Insecure employment or joblessness.

I walked through a land

Blasted by broken promises

And donned my uniform and webbing.

I arrived amid dust and heat

And politicians’ bombast

In a distant, foreign land.


I am the known soldier.

My country was my comrades,

My patriotism the brother who had my back,

My nation a mean bed, sangars,

Transports, roaring Chinooks.

My legacy is the blood sacrifice

I made on Helmand soil,

The flesh the shrapnel tore,

The bone the jagged metal broke,

The skin the fires crisped.


I am the known soldier.

They chisel my name in stone,

But they never mark my pain

Or the sting of loss in a loved one’s eye.

So not for me pro patria mori.

Not for me the snap of the flag,

Not for me this parcel of death

To be weighed in the generals’ scales,

Not for me the drumbeat to another war.

I am the known soldier.

My dust and ash screams this knowledge,

That no war is worth a world without me.



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