THE FLAG

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Rod Walford

THE FLAG

Post by Rod Walford » Thu May 01, 2014 10:04 am

Many years ago, a good friend of mine (now in his advancing years) fought for New Zealand in the jungles of South-East Asia. He was part of a multi-national patrol on covert operations. During one particularly vicious firefight, my friend lost his own best friend who was serving with the British Royal Marines. My friend recorded the details of the encounter that same night on the back of a cigarette packet which he only re- discovered in recent years when going through his old backpack. He sent me the details and asked me to write something.
I came up with the following poem which I called “The Flag”. I post it here because there was Australian involvement too.




THE FLAG

© 1999 Rod Walford


Come, all who rise to greet each dawn in disaffected manner,
Yet daily walk in favour born of freedom’s sovereign banner;
Then ponder well your shield of Union flag and Southern Cross,
And edge in gilt the men who built her mast with tragic loss.

See her ride the wind with pride! She draws her halyards tauter,
In proud salute to those who bore her far across the water.
Her tribute to her sons and daughters, conscious of her price.
And those she lost, who paid her cost in blood...... and sacrifice.

Beneath the verdant canopies of Asia’s long campaign
The Kiwi footprint once was found where now it walks again.
No river’s flow or sunset’s glow its memory could erase
For one, its burden long will carry, ‘til his final days.

Just one more Kiwi soldier with his sworn allegiance to
His flag with stars assembled on a sea of royal blue.
In dire threat from forces dark and of his own perdition,
The politicians backed his cause - with verbal ammunition.


As from their lofty corridors of self-perceived noblesse,
They gambled with the lives of men in Asia’s game of chess.
That you and I should live the joy of countless peaceful dawns,
Is not our debt to knights or kings, but courage of the pawns!

The politicians bravely talk in eloquent oration.
Such plausible magniloquence concerning State and Nation.
Yet were they present with him in that bloodstained Asian river
With bayonet fixed, emotions mixed, and stomach churning quiver?

Alas - not so, it seems as though, the protocols of war
Dictate that they be far away upon a leeward shore;
Too far to see the jungle green, or feel its stifling heat;
Or hear the sub-machine gun blast its grim staccato beat.


As on that fateful day, patrolling waist deep in the slime,
Reality became his nightmare in a trice of time;
The flash and crack of ambush scattered all upon the scene
And took away his finest friend, who was a Royal Marine.


Now if the orators perchance to knock on Heaven’s door,
God grant it may be opened by a child of East Timor.
In battle past, the die was cast, but democratic right
Died in procrastination’s darkest never-ending night.


And so this child may lead them where the mists of time enshroud
A land where all men dwell in peace below a long white cloud.
Wherein her heroes gather still, in hallowed dawn parade.
And wonder sometimes....... “Is it worth the sacrifice we made?”


Behold these men assembled here beneath the Standard’s mast.
Beside each one, a vacant place, without a shadow cast.
Where souls of comrades lost abide, by human eye unseen
One Kiwi, one Australian....... and .............a British Royal Marine.

manfredvijars

Re: THE FLAG

Post by manfredvijars » Thu May 01, 2014 4:54 pm

Love it Rod, great use of language, imaginary and metaphor ...
The internal structure of your stanzas vary, but this is good as the piece becomes less predictable.
Well done! ... :D

PS. I am enjoying your writings ..

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Maureen K Clifford
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Re: THE FLAG

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Thu May 01, 2014 7:23 pm

Nicely crafted Rod and I agree with Mannie - the change of pace adds to the atmosphere of the piece. Particularly liked this line -
See her ride the wind with pride! She draws her halyards tauter,
Very nice. The Kiwi's were an integral part of the ANZAC legend - we don't forget.

Cheers

Maureen
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -
http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/


I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

Rod Walford

Re: THE FLAG

Post by Rod Walford » Fri May 02, 2014 6:57 am

Thank you both Manfred & Maureen - yes sometimes with longer story poems I like to vary the pace - sometimes I'm sure it happens involuntarily! - but yes it breaks it up a bit and hopefully keeps the reader interested. Glad you liked it.

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alongtimegone
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Location: Brisbane

Re: THE FLAG

Post by alongtimegone » Sun Dec 14, 2014 5:29 pm

Rod I missed this when posted earlier this year but have caught up with it today and so glad I did. Wonderful! My eyes misted.
Wazza

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Catherine Lee
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Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 9:47 pm
Location: Thailand

Re: THE FLAG

Post by Catherine Lee » Sun Dec 14, 2014 8:07 pm

Hello my dear friend - so good to see you on here again with another of your wonderful poems, because as I've said before, you really know how to touch the heart!
I love this Rod, and particularly like the lines:
That you and I should live the joy of countless peaceful dawns,
Is not our debt to knights or kings, but courage of the pawns!

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