Sunday, April 25, 2010

CLXXXXI- The Letter


Today, April 25th, is ANZAC Day in Australia.
Ninety-five years ago Australian soldiers were landed in southern Turkey
as part of Churchill’s ill-conceived plan to attack Germany from the south.
Thousands died.


There’s a picket fence and a cottage gate,
An anxious frown, the postman’s late…
He comes at last, he understands,
And the precious envelope changes hands.

The Letter

Dearest Mother, it’s late, it’s cold,
Me and some mates are in a trench,
Huddled for warmth, no food, no smokes.
I can’t begin to describe the stench
Of the bodies we have no time
To bury in any sort of respectful way.
They say the push is on tomorrow,
Never have I so dreaded the day.
It’s a lottery, you know, who gets shot
We shout and holler and run the guns,
To drop and dig all over again.
Greetings from Hell, your loving son.


As every mother ruefully learns
It’s not her son who eventually returns;
There’s a stranger standing in her hall,
If, of course, he returns at all.

Translated from the Turkish.

© J Cosmo Newbery

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  1. The military and the politicians have never understood the damage done to soldiers by war.

  2. A beautiful and thoughtful poem for Anzac Day dear J Cosmo ... xoxo ♥

  3. Lee: Would you believe the US military has Warrior Transition Units? These are where traumatised military folk are told to 'buck up, fellah. REAL soldiers don't cry' and then wonder at the suicide rate. Me? Cynical? Of course not. Sorry. Raw nerve. You Dad was in the Korean War, wasn't he?

  4. Dianne: Thank you for your support. I shall always wear it. No, no, seriously, thank you.

  5. This made me terribly sad. The truth of it is what makes it saddest of all.

  6. You took my breath away...this is very very special, thanks for sharing

  7. my grandfather on my mother's side survived the trenches of WWI as a young man. according to my mother he had nightmares for the rest of his life.
    my father and some uncles were WWII survivors (one uncle died). i grew up with wwii stories .. i had an uncle who died during the Korean War.
    It's a terrible thing.

    and, yes .. these military transition units do not work ...
    duuuh ...

    your tribute to your country men is touching and obviously struck a chord with me.

  8. some people ask me why do I have so many stupid jokes,
    then sometimes turn in great rage with not so many pokes.

    and I almost always see the barbed wire and claymores.
    And cleaning the bloody meat from the cockpit, my pilots, off the floors.

    I'm sorry for Australia's fine blokes
    and I curse the instigators of the wars.

  9. TALON: The saddest part is that we never learn.

    Lorraine: Thank you.

    Foam: Only Hollywood has war stories with happy endings.

    Boneman: It is a big load to carry; I hope i didn't poke any nerves..

  10. beautiful writing!
    well done, sad but hope is on the way...Happy Sunday!


    5 awards on the bottom of the post,
    hope that we build blogging friendship!

  12. Very, very moving, Lee.

  13. In many ways we do not seem to have progressed much.
    Some wounds never heal.
    Very touching post, JCN.

  14. Heart-rendingly exact. All of it sad and true. Well done.


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