Wednesday, May 18, 2011

For Crown and Country

I have been at a bit of a loss lately creatively. I have reached a point in my novelette that is possibly the most pivotal scene of all and it's just not coming to me. In an attempt to climb back on the horse, so to speak, I have been going back to my writing roots...poetry.  One of the many authors that I have read and loved since childhood is Rudyard Kipling. I have always been drawn to his simple crisp rhymes and possibly to his palpable disdain for pomp and authority. So, my offering today is my attempt at an homage to the man's indisputable skill. I suppose I should include a disclaimer to the effect that I have had and continue to have many Brit friends. My poem, in no way, is intended to impugn, insult, judge or mock any or all things British. That being said, enjoy!

For Crown and Country

T’was winter in the year of Our Lord 1853,
I signed my soul away to join the fookin’ Infantry.
I didn’t want no soldiers’ life or even soldiers’ pay.
They bought me stock and barrel for the three square feeds a day.

An’ it’s Right Turn March and Left Turn March an’ kiss Sar Major’s bum.
Another meal of gristly beef and half a pint of rum.

They shipped us off to Burma for to keep the paynim down,
Since no man can be proper if his skin is coloured brown.
A filthy lot of pagans all who gibber when they speak,
And rarely wash their filthy hides to stifle down the reek.

An’ it’s Right Turn March and Left Turn March and troop the bloody line.
Another meal of mutton stew and jugs of bitter wine.

We played a lot of cards and dice and sometimes stood for muster,
To make a show of force and exercise our British bluster.
The locals weren’t no proper threat, them bein’ barely men
And so within a day or two we’d pack it in again.

An’ it’s By The Left and By the Right and Quick or Easy March
Another meal of homebrew beer and livin’ off the starch.

Then came one bloody Sunday, we lay sleepin’ off the grog.
The bastards came awhoopin’ out the early mornin’ fog.
It must be called an ambush for it weren’t no fair attack.
So there we was, all cowerin’ and fightin’ back to back.

It weren’t a pretty sight it weren’t, them swarmin’ us like ants
And men all gettin’ shot or stabbed before they had a chance.
The scurvy little buggers wouldn’t stand and fight us fair
But when you’re busy dyin’ then such pleasantries are rare.

An’ it’s Rally here an’ Fall Back there and Hold the bloody flank!
Another row of corpses stacked by unit and by rank.

An’ so they brought me home again, me missin’ sundry bits
Gave all to Crown and Country and those bureaucratic gits.
Me pension buys a tiny croft and things no dog would eat
An’ so it’s come full circle and me journey is complete.

An’ it’s “Spare change Sir?” and “Coppers please?  An’ “Help a Fellow eh?”
Another jar of rotgut gin to wash it all away.

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