ANZAC Day: A Young Man’s Promise

100 years ago today at dawn’s first light, Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli to fight a bloody campaign that would last for eight months and result in the loss of thousands of lives.

ANZAC Day today is a day of remembrance and recognition. A day to commemorate Australians and our New Zealand comrades who served, and lost their lives, in all wars, conflicts and peace keeping operations.

In commemoration, I  introduce a poem written by my Father some years ago.

In “A Young Man’s Promise” the reader is walked across a World War 1 battlefield, where the ghosts of conflict reach out to rattle their chains with resonating imagery, and a young man honours his great grandfather.

For all who have and will serve.  Lest we forget.

 

A Young Man’s Promise

By Richard Forcey

He walks with slow and measured tread

Across the fields where many died

While ghosts of armies long forgotten

March with him, quietly, by his side.

 

And as he picks his way through cornfields,

Scenes once faded fill his eyes,

He hears exploding shells long fallen

Now drowned out by a million sighs.

 

Young men in ragged great-coats cower

In rat-infested trenches foul

And wait the dreaded words,”Let’s go,lads!”

Once more to face the mortar’s howl.

 

As through the cloying mud they blunder

There’s just one thought in every mind,

“Let it be quick! Oh please God, spare me,”

Drawn-out dying, screaming, blind.

 

Moonlight, searchlight, stark white flare,

Each flicker rouses numbing dread

Exposing corpse-strewn blasted earth

A shattered school room, children fled.

 

A row of houses, crumbled, burning

An upturned pram, two bloated cows,

A little girl with death-glazed eyes,

Her blood defiling floral blouse.

 

And stumbling forward, bayonets fixed,

Towards the whites of foreign eyes,

Does any wild spectre think

He’s just a tool the system plies?

 

Now bullets whine amongst the debris,

Announcing battle to commence

The rag-tag horde runs forward, yelling,

To spend themselves in vain offence.

 

The din of conflict, then the silence,

Cold rain falls on cratered ground

The sole survivor, gasping, retching,

Claws blood from eyes and looks around.

 

A reeking, smoking landscape greets

His blurred and disbelieving gaze

A field sown thick with shattered comrades

Will haunt him all his living days.

 

So now the youth who picks his pathway

Through swaying tracts of golden corn,

Reflects upon the needless slaughter,

The “glory” under banner torn.

 

The ghosts recede – Great Granddad’s medal

Laid on the ground by loving hand,

The young man turns, head bowed, then briskly

Walks wondering from the hallowed land.

 

ANZAC-Day-Poppies

 

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About Rebecca Fraser

Rebecca Fraser is a full time copy and content writer and part time speculative fiction author based on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Her dark short stories, poems, and flash fiction have appeared in various anthologies, magazines and journals since 2007. Rebecca holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing and a Certificate of Publishing (Copy Editing and Proofreading). To provide her muse with life’s essentials, she supplements by freelancing for the corporate world, however her true passion lies in storytelling.
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4 Responses to ANZAC Day: A Young Man’s Promise

  1. cazcorrell says:

    Wow. That’s fantastic. Thanks for sharing Bec.

  2. angelasunde says:

    So strong and evocative. The imagery is fabulous. I see where you get your talent from.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Angela. I’m very fortunate that my parents fostered and encouraged my love of words at an early age. Dad writes some lovely, powerful things and mum is a voracious reader with diverse tastes. 🙂

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