War Poetry, Scottish and Canadian
Just spotted this recently in the Scottish media:
A Scottish soldier has written a book of war poems from the front line in Afghanistan.
Sergeant David Stenhouse, 44, laid bare the horror of life in Helmand in a series of heart-felt verses.
The married dad wrote about carnage caused by deadly roadside explosives, suicide bombers and the constant threat of attack soldiers face.
David, from Glenrothes, Fife, was inspired to start writing when Army top brass were impressed by notes he jotted on a pad during work breaks.
He now hopes to have his collection of 30 poems published after returning from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
David said: “I wrote about what I saw going on around me and what I felt.
“When someone dies over there, we all feel it. We attend vigils and hear details about this young person’s life. It’s so sad.”
Here’s some examples of his work:
The Hidden Killer
“The chaos and confusion that occurs straight after the blast, your comrades will have to act quickly; they will have to react fast. The smell of burnt flesh and the horrific pain at first sight, you will have to hang onto your life brave soldier, now begins the fight.”
Stand And Fight
“Twenty-two brave men lost their lives within the month of July, yet ourblood-stained flag still blows in the desert sky. Is it time we were leaving theAfghanistanplains, before more of our men are so cruelly slain? But no we are British, and we will stand and fight,hunting down the Insurgent day and night.”
“To him this is a Holy War, and you the infidel must pay, if you don’t recognise and eliminate him, he’s going to blow you away.”
As I share poetry, let’s not forget Canada’s war poet, Suzanne Steele, is getting ready to head downrange through the Canadian Forces Artist Program to share her experience of seeing what Canada’s troops are doing via warpoet.ca. She’s already spent some work-up time with troops in Wainwright, Alberta. Here’s one of her works, “Stab Runs”:
Boys, it’s time. Let’s blaze the Battle valley.
Shoot all her ghosts, her sizzling diesel moons,
the frying sun flung over her horizon.
Copper ammo, blue-tip mortar rounds
bomb-up LAVs, soldiers get stoked, pumped, for stab runs.
“This is team team team Ex,” Sgt J sweats,
“Okay you guys, fucking start hammering.”
Red flags zip. Machine guns arc right, arc left.
Casings spit like sunflower seeds, chewed dip.
They clink, gold arrowheads, into prairie.
Mortar whomp. Tracers whiz, flame cinquefoil hills;
last summer’s dying grass catches fire.
Metal clicks, hay boxes unclasp lunch.
Smoke, coffee, time to piss. An hour to laugh.
And another, TIC (’06):
you drove. slowly through the night. the fire fight. red. white. metal. the smell of cordite. focused. never lost your cool. the net crackling in your earpiece like paper kites. on fire. your sites greened. you keen to shoot. straight. clear. clean. unreal. your lance of bullets hot. into the dark. into the night. your breath steady. even when Sun Ray went down. when LAV 31 Bravo was RPGed. thud. thud. the burst of fire bud. the sting. thud. your shot. aimed. ready. slow. steady. fired. lit Panjaway night. like Roman Candles. on All Hallows’ Eve.
Thanks, Sergeant Stenhouse, for sharing, and good luck, Suzanne, in your travels.