Army Expert Killed by I.R.A. Explosion

from a report in The Times

It’s done, done, the march-past,
presenting arms and all.
I took my life from Hereford,
a hardy animal.
I loved that town with its twisting roads:
it takes me to it still,
for I’m lost, gone and under
on Hereford’s north hill.

It’s done, done, the march-past,
the maps, the practice raids.
When I left the school for army
I thought of the parades,
and I flamed the polish on my boots
and shouldered a matchstick gun –
flipped silver air through my salutes –
but now the march-past’s done.

For a bomb blew me asunder
where I’d never thought to go,
in Pettigo’s post-office.
Now everywhere I know
is full of Irish people
and an anti-Irish cause;
and the town with twisting turnings
burns blood from all its doors.

They made me a staff sergeant
in the Royal Ordnance Corps,
and they took me from my daughters
into a wary war
where you smelt the slow fuse burning
of ambition’s street-charged hate;
and a fatal death-slow learning
in the arrogant men’s state

being thundered all to pieces.
– Though once they shouted ’Shun!
it’s slowly now and carefully
this ‘office job’ is done.
Defuse a twenty-five pounder –
Oh God, it all went wrong,
and I’ve lost my wife and children,
and the way back home is long.

Now never on the high field
to see the hang-fire sun
go down in different greens of air –
the marching-past is done.
It’s done, done, my daughters,
dear wife, and Hereford home . . .
just one of a host of slaughters,
and all for Ireland’s bomb.

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