Bayonets fixed and a feeling of dread
as fast as we can
we cover the ground
Rifles and cannon
ripping the field and smearing us red.
Another skirmish in nameless terrain-
so very important
to winning the war-
but nameless corpses
mark a small triumph bought with their pain.
Just over the ridge...
Not many came back.
Red poppies now flourish as memories fade
where courage and terror
stalked through the corn.
Respect for the fallen
of countless ridges where still bones are laid.
Until peace heals.
(For Remembrance Day 11th November 2022 (c) Richard Starling)
One white petal. It’s the only white petal on this dahlia in three years. Does it spoil the flower? Not in my eyes. I love the warm apricot and crimson shades of this dahlia: but the white stands out symbolising purity and innocence, and with a touch of sadness.
Appropriate for today.
As I looked at this beautiful flower through the camera lens, the difference of the one petal made me think about the tragedy of history and the need for peace and justice. So often we allow “differences” to become excuses. They’re different- so we can insult, exploit, fight, kill… Then those who have suffered hurt and loss seek vengeance… and the cycle of hatred fans flames again.
I am meditating on three Bible passages. The first is a “9:11” …. describing life for humans.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 (TNIV) I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
The second is taken from Matthew’s Gospel. These verses (from a King James Bible) were found at Ground Zero, and the page had somehow been fused to the rubble.
Matthew 5:38-39 (TNIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
My third verse is from the ancient prophecy of Micah, pointing out that our hope of true justice and peace is found in God, not the wisdom and folly of humanity. I have chosen the “Message” translation of this verse, because it catches the mood using very down-to-earth modern phrases.
Micah 4:3 (Message) He’ll establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places. They’ll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes. Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another.
A prayer: Lord God, may that Day come soon. And until then, help all of us to be peacemakers, healers, forgivers, carers, and devoted to Love and Justice for all. Amen.
So this is Pegasus, chained to Earth?
Sculptor's whimsy, cast in bronze,
connected to water and spitting in the wind.
And standing silent, Neptune's nephew,
staring skyfull, whip in hand-
doomed to fixed gaze and colder heart.
Nightmare vision- Is this dragon, horse, or fish?
Or who is he, metallic ribcage, futile youth?
Perhaps the artist had bad dreams.
Who paid the bill for this eternal fountain?
Whose coin transmuted to statue?
Why is it here? Whose story is told?
Beside such immobile angst, grass glows
in sun beam, illuminating spray:
Vast pot holds tulips, markers of wealth.
'Tis a place where influence waned,
indulgent extravagance faced down tax- and lost.
Now simply memory, bronzed.
God has placed eternity in our hearts-
we long to last, to survive, make a mark.
Generations fade as does our fame.
We build, we sculpt, we carve time
with stone or metal, even flowers-
so we are remembered, missed- perchance, loved?
Arc of water, droplets sinking swift
in pool lined with stone and lead;
vain refreshing of history's pages.
There is still living, and garden, and hope;
and we gaze blankly at a coded message
that says... I mattered once, and maybe still.
What memorial, engraved, will tell my tale?
I doubt a statue be raised for me!
Hush, my soul, pay that no mind.
Though I live as servant, and speak of grace
unless my heart beats compassionate love-
then my words fail, and pass to dust.
Here, then, Saviour of creatures and all,
be the Craftsman who shapes my life,
my deeds, and my sculptured heart.
Let Living Water shoot forth in peace
to cool the eyes and feet of pilgrims.
May I testify to Eternal Love! Let that be memorial enough.
Silent now Thunder of guns faded no shouts or screams to remember the ones whose footsteps lingered in muddy fields.
Nothing here until poppy-seeds buried come to flower in blood-soaked clay. And poets, seeking to soften loss of so many, too soon, Saw each petal, flower, and stem as soldiers standing to mourn.
Not just the fields Warfare blights the deserts, the skies and sea. Countless men, fathers, brothers, sons Women, too, have paid with blood and sorrow Children plucked from homes communities shattered, bombed, derided- Where is the Dove of Peace?
If only all war were just If only war were no more.
Blood-red poppies from the battlefields tell the story of courage and loss. We will remember we will honour their memory we will grieve their passing and thankfully receive freedom, not to be taken carelessly or held in scorn.
We will remember the ones who never came home- and those who came back changed and lost. Blind and maimed, with empty eyes, and shadowed thoughts.
We will remember. A poppy worn in remembrance, in hope of lasting peace, a yearning for justice and fairness for all. A poppy worn for what has been and for what, we pray, may not come again.
Now for widow, orphan, refugee and victim may there be hope of peace of safety, of a home where war does not call. May sword be re-cycled and rifle laid aside and tanks and planes and battleships fall into disuse until they rust and war shall be no more.
Then the blood-red poppy shall be left to grow in peace.
Today – the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz & Birkenau, the infamous Nazi death camps. It is Holocaust Memorial Day: and we should never forget. Words are inadequate but they are all I have. This is my Lament for the Jews, Gypsies, cast-outs, unwanted, despised… all the victims of what happens when evil thoughts are let loose.
shed on concrete floors
wiped away by skeletal kids
by noxious hatred
with genocidal solutions
Lest we forget
should make us cry
so our generations
never repeat killing
by decree of expediency
Camps of Death
liberated by shocked soldiers
to save the few
Too late for millions
we must never forget
Auschwitz and Birkenau
for God’s sake
And theirs, hid in a river of tears.
(c) Richard Starling, Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th Jan 2020