Country war memorial

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Country war memorial

Half an acre, roughly mown,
a single row of twenty-one
neat blocks of grey cement,
each occupying just the space
a head would, resting on the clay.

On every block, a bright brass plaque:
In memory of
name, branch of service
Lest we forget.
Three Hansens, two McNeills.

A bunch of plastic pink carnations;
two white roses, limp,
scorched by frost.

Oak leaves in drifts
against the fence.

— Bob Morrow

God’s place

This was the house of a tired god, one who was making-do
until retirement, letting things go, watching the paint peel,
suffering the fowls of the air to roost in the gables,
ignoring rosy glass fractured by the stones of the scornful;
a neglected house assaulted side and front by angry traffic,
surrounded by cafes of reflection and sellers of fine raiment,
its message-board out-spruiked by blandishments of usurers.
Yet this was the house of a god of green pastures and still waters,
a restorer of souls, a guide on the hard paths of righteousness,
a friend in the valleys of shadow — but an old god set in old ways
unappealing to the clappers and stampers on the hillsides
who shout their hallelujahs by the score, a god whose debts
were unforgiven and whose chattels have been flogged
but whose prime half-hectare has soared beyond belief;
An Opportunity Heaven Sent, cries the agent’s board.

B. N. Oakman




Bob MorrowBob Morrow fell into writing poetry in 2003 while in Ireland searching for family roots. He is currently working on a collection of poems about family and a sense of place.



Bob MorrowB. N. Oakman writes poetry and short fiction that appears in literary magazines, newspapers and anthologies. An academic economist, he has taught in universities in Australia and England. He lives in Central Victoria.




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Existing comments

Those country war memorials take on an ever more bruising poignancy as the decades go. "Three Hansens, two McNeills" - to have caught the pain of small country communities so surely, so easily and so concisely is a fine achievement!

The poignancy of Oakman's country churches is less sharp but evokes a moving range of reflections. His image of the "God of green pastures and still waters" gives lovely sense of values, of a whole way of life, we can pine for. The ageing of the "tired old God" is developed with an easy humor, but it poignantly suggests the fragility of the lovely things of life and their vulnerability to our coarser side. The ambiguities of "soared beyond belief" and "An opportunity Heaven sent" are sharply poignant, too, in their lament for the spiritual values replaced by material ambitions.

Thanks ES.
Joe Castley | 22 April 2008

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