As politicians evoke conflict a century past


Airport lounge

Airport Lounge Remembrance
after Wilfred Owen’s Send Off

A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
they pass us by
in airport lounges, off to foreign hells.

Their camouflage no more dispels
the seeking eye,

so common to our life they fade in sight.
They come and go
like fatigued FIFO workers day and night;
partners waiting for their safe return, might
be the only show.

No protest march, no ticker tape parade.
For some silence.
Slow news days provoke a story; cliched
right down to myth and mateship. A charade
at their expense.

A death will drop the flag to half mast.
To suit their cause,
politicians evoke conflict a century past.
We'll dredge up some connection, eyes downcast.
Some will pause

And think of airport lounges, passers by,
a few, too few, will remember why.

– S. B. Wright  

Fields of France  

Wind turbines, frozen
in unnatural poses
like grotesque giant scarecrows,
limb-flukes pointing to the earth,
the sky, like dislocated wings
that jut and gesture incoherently:
nightmares of a mutant army
rising from the mire. 

Flat fields  as far
as eyes can see –
the fertile, verdant
fields of France,
that must dissolve
to viscous mud in winter,
as they did back then,
sucking in the wretched
men in uniform,
war horses, pain; feasting
on the corpses of the slain. 

Marnay-sur-Seine, March 25, 2015
– Jena Woodhouse

Guinness Stout
for Lieutenant Michael Malone,
shot in Dublin in his home on Anzac Day 1916
When you see the Guinness boiler-barrel rolling along,
Masquerading as something armoured and strong,
It is not difficult to know
That desperation always masks a bravado show.
Easter ushers a new birth,
Sadly, always after death;
Here death won Michael Malone
Shot in his home all alone.
I was silenced by the shadowed plaque on the wall,
It’s only now I can engage in a puny recall.
Here we, too, remember the red, white and blue,
As we had once danced to that tune too,
As our bodies rolled into the Turkish turf,
Shot down riding a distant, different surf.
– Peter Gebhardt

S. B. Wright

S. B. Wright is a poet, book reviewer and podcast producer who blogs at Words Poetical.






Jena Woodhouse has two novels published by Ginninderra Press.





Peter Gebhardt

Peter Gebhardt is a retired judge and school principal.

Topic tags: Peter Gebhardt, Jena Woodhouse, SB Wright, Anzac Day, modern Australian poetry



submit a comment

Existing comments

A triptych of terrific.
Peter Goers | 21 April 2015

Some actual thought about what wars actually entail, and none of that slide into near celebration that we see too often at the moment. Sorrow beautifully expressed.
Penelope | 22 April 2015

I love Jena Woodhouse's poem, which to me evokes the present hiding past pain, but linking it with future hope.
Tracey Dunn | 22 April 2015 A Meditation on Elegies by Seamus Heaney A PAPER BY PETER GEBHARDT
PHILIP HARVEY | 23 April 2015

Similar Articles

Abuse victim's post traumatic horror

  • Tim Kroenert
  • 16 April 2015

The manner in which Hugh drugs and binds Jay has strong overtones of 'date rape'. More than this, though, there is inherent violence in his having had sex with her at all, knowing that her consent hinged on her ignorance of the real consequences. Now, to be fair, there are men in the film who suffer, too. But the objectification of women by the male gaze and the predatory dynamic this entails is too pervasive to ignore.


Vera Brittain's elegant anti-war ode

  • Tim Kroenert
  • 23 April 2015

Vera, a latecomer to the gathering, interjects. She has worked as a nurse, has had her hands warmed by the blood of the maimed and the soon-to-be-dead of both sides of the conflict. She has lost loved ones, too — a brother, a friend, a fiancé — and the grief of their loss will be with her always. But how can violent conflict ever be truly redeemed through the trauma of more violent conflict? The German soldiers who died in the war left behind loved ones, too.


We've updated our privacy policy.

Click to review