Sunday, 8 November 2015


The following poem is a very personal one. My poem was commended in Kingston Libraries poetry competition last year. The theme was remembrance. I was at the time trying to write poems on the theme of war but this poem is really about saying goodbye to my dad. I did, however, draw on my father's experiences of war a little, as well as what he told me of his brother, the uncle I never knew. A few years ago my cousin showed me some pictures and letters she had. There were several letters written by my uncle back home to his family, several mentioned my dad. It seems they did some of their training together. The last letter was written a few days before his plane went down.

Some years ago I visited the poppy factory in Richmond and was able to leave a cross for my uncle to be placed in London with many others on Remembrance Sunday. While at the factory I saw poppies being made by hand and by machine and helped make the large poppy you now see in the photo.

I dedicate this post to my dad who was my hero, to my uncle who died in World War II and whose letters I read often, and also my grandmother's cousin who I discovered while doing family history research. He died in World War I in France aged just seventeen.

As you go

You sleep most of the time now,
twitching with soft moans
and I wonder where you go
at times like these.
Do you return to Burma
where you saw things
you could never speak of,
where malaria racked your body
with tremors and you dosed on Quinine?
Do you hear your brother’s voice
calling you home down
through five decades,
still as fresh-faced as the day his
convoy went missing over the Atlantic?
You have aged, though I never noticed
until now how much you look like granddad
in his later years.

The wrong cells are winning
taking you away from me,
you apologise for nodding off,
It doesn’t matter, I say,
you don’t have to make an effort,
not for me.
But it is hard to say goodbye,
I still hope for a miracle
but you are slipping much too fast,
I hold you before I leave,
part of you has already gone,

what’s left lingers between two worlds.

Uncle Billie

My dad Charlie - top right (taken in Burma)

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