The Great Peace

The Unknown Soldier

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The Great Peace

The pain surprises me.
The rain falls steadily, but it is not the cause of the pain.
The wind blows briskly, but it is not the cause of the pain.

I look around the small cemetery, one out of around 940 in France and Belgium.
It is the cause of my pain.
It contains the graves of 1262 British, 4 Canadian and 29 German soldiers and airmen.
There is no segregation by rank or nationality, and each grave is immaculately tended.
They are arranged in chronological order of death.
Think about that, just for a moment.

The peace is in sharp contrast to those bloody days 100 years ago.
The days when this part of Northern France was the world’s battlefield, bringing men from all parts of the planet to die here.

The Great War.
I almost smile at the oxymoron.
But find I cannot.
Because of the tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat.

the great war they said
was the war to end all wars
flowers grow in tears

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the maple leaf

a leaf by anelephantcant

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Maple Leaf

I have the Maple Leaf you gave me
the day we went to Lighthouse Park
the trees were high the sun was low
but with you there was no dark

I have the Maple Leaf you gave me
when we walked round English Bay
for some the rain fell steadily
for me the sky was never grey

I have the Maple Leaf you gave me
when we admired the Gastown Clock
but time had no real meaning
when we laughed and danced and talked

I lost the Maple Leaf you gave me
on that long gone autumn day
carried on a gentle breeze
like your love it slipped away

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ghosts of love

ghosts by Phil Burns

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ghosts of love

Hallowe’en is a night full of magic
when candles in turnips shine bright in the dark
nervous folk fear spirits will venture forth
but the ghosts are only real in my heart

Hallowe’en is a night full of laughter
children dress up and go out in disguise
they find chocolate and old-fashioned pastimes
and the ghosts are only seen by my eyes

Hallowe’en is a night full of mystery
witches ride broomsticks and slide down moonbeams
warlocks conspire to make mischief
but the ghosts only live in my dreams

Hallowe’en is a night of festivity
of parties and games and great fun
when the oldest and youngest all celebrate
and the ghosts are still here though you’re gone

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Scottish Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en by Phil Burns

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Hallowe’en

nae bairn can contain their excitement
as the end of October draws near
each wee brain fair itches
as they think about witches
it is the scariest night of the year

aye Hallowe’en is a night of fear-filled frolics
as long as you ca’ canny
ye might see a de’il
or a bogle for real
if you keek in each impenetrably dark nook and cranny

some traditions have lasted forever and ever
some changes we find quite surprising
in the US it’s neat
to say trick or treat
but in Scotland for the past 500 years we call it guising

there’s ay laughter and games for the wee yins
with treacle scones hung on a loosely-strung string
just mind your thrapple
when dookin’ for apples
in case a wild wean wi’ a sharp-pronged fork takes a swing

everyone carves out a lacklustre lantern
we use turnips but some folk use pumpkins
we may be old fashioned
but please show compassion
and don’t confuse us with near-extinct country bumpkins

though it’s now all modern and commercialised
we aw continue to do things we’re no’ supposed tae
it’s still the nerve-numbing night
that causes face-freezing fright
when we walk wi’ all sorts of gruesome ghouls and ghastly ghosties

Hallowe’en is the annual haunt of the bogeyman
he frightens the bravest bairns out of their hat-disguised heads
he has never been seen
but does that really just mean
he is hiding patiently under your bed?

*Glossary of Terms:

aye – yes
ca’ canny – take care
bogle – a bad thing, a spectre, a goblin
keek – look
ay – always
thrapple – throat, windpipe
dookin’ – ducking, trying to capture from a large basin or bath
wean, bairn – child
tae – to
bogeyman – boogeyman (USA), very bad (hopefully) imaginary person

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writer’s cramp

masts sway by anelephantcant

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writer’s cramp

the romance is all I dreamed of
two lives entwined together
it seems that I am what you want
and I’ll love you forever

through golden days and silver nights
such wondrous moments shared
as hand in hand we laughed and danced
I thought you truly cared

the masts sway in the sunset
I hear the creaking of the ropes
the sky is painted crimson
brighter than my fading hopes

the Med has lost her magic
in the trees the birds don’t sing
autumn has departed
there will never be a spring

the icy winds are blowing
I have no reason to rejoice
the silence now is deafening
I yearn to hear your voice

my heart is gripped with frostbite
I grimly endure winter
the chill sets in so merciless
my insides slowly splinter

and then I find the reason
why my eyes are sore and damp
a long-forgotten summer day
when I suffered writer’s cramp

you give the simple explanation
the truth I could not see
the good times do not matter
if they must be shared with me

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being sick

being sick by phil burns

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being sick

it isn’t funny being sick in the autumn
it isn’t funny being sick at any time
it isn’t fun when you suspect the bits and pieces you eject
are as close as you can get to writing rhyme

it isn’t funny when you stare into the mirror
and realise you don’t recognise your own description
when your look at life is wry and you wish that you were high
but the only drugs you have are on prescription

it isn’t funny when you’re confined to barracks
when you’re stir crazy and going off your head
you think of running wild but in fact you’re reconciled
the only place you’re going is back to bed

it isn’t funny when you should be getting better
but this nonsense drags on yet another week
your doctor’s running out of drugs to combat these wretched bugs
you don’t have a paddle and you’re still far up the creek

it isn’t funny when you waken in the morning
although it’s better than the alternative they say
but you splutter and you cough and think oh please buzz off
now you’ve got to suffer through another ghastly day

it isn’t funny when you discover that it’s Saturday
the thought of writing poetry makes you weep
you are completely uninspired and you really are dog tired
so you shrug roll over and go back to sleep

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dream of life

you’re still there by phil burns

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dream of life

is this my life a dream so sweet
or is it real and then
when I awaken from my dream
does my life come to an end

I don’t know if these words make sense
I don’t think I really care
I do know that I’ll be content
to know that you’re still there

for I don’t want to live a life
where the pain is so extreme
in any world where you are not
either real or in a dream

for one truth I must tell you
if you have not already guessed
of all the things that ever happened
you are easily the best

you are perhaps life’s greatest pleasure
seeing you smile each time you give
whether you are real or in a dream
I love just watching you live

and now so many years have passed
since I saw your face again
so I’ll awaken from my life
let my dream come to an end

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