Prayer for the Generals

Prayer for the Generals

The sky was blue the day he came,
Just like every day from 5 months past,
A day for hobnobbing and the old charade:
That challenges remain but progress is fast.

The yarn choked to the major chime,
And spun another turn of the overture,
I’m wanted fit for the General’s visit:
“Make sure you tow the party line”.

So “sideburns up and shoulders back”,
And “don’t forget to smile for the hacks”,
And “You can say what you want, just don’t say that”,
I said to my lads who just stared back.

Then young Simnet, ever the cheeky chap:
“There’s no point in shimfin’, how will they crack:
The Afghans suck stones, for fucks sake,
Who can explain that?”

“Like the boys in the Dardanelles” I silently offer,
So to make their ‘dry mouths water’,
I read in my fading Anthem of poems,
On another bygone bungled slaughter.

And then late they arrived in a flurry of hats,
The General, the Brig and his travelling quack,
Stars on their shoulders as the cameras flashed,
As the sun beat down on the desert black rats.

I’m sure I’ll get to say my piece,
I’ve been here 5 months, this is my niche,
He’s here to hear what lies beneath,
Maybe I’ll matter for minute or three.

The General approached caked in sweat,
His overhang bulging in his uniform fresh,
“Good morning, good to see you,” he sprightly said,
As the lads looked on half-worn, half-dead.

“So mail getting through, everything fine?”
His eyes danced everywhere but avoided mine,
And then forth his ADC, “General, it’s time”,
And off he trotted, to the flight line.

“Sir, did you say it? Did you say how it is?”
The lads let on as the Merlin dipped,
Over the horizon to Bastion, as anger bit,
I glanced to my chest and my measly two pips.

And praised be those minds of that old Doomed Youth,
Who wrote in mind for future’s fruit,
But now roll in your graves and curse our fools,
The new mules chasing the honours loot.

Copyright 2014: Antony Raine


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