Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Submarine deaths due to failure.

Yet more evidence of the contempt that the MOD exhibit towards our service personnel. The UK government has thrown away the covenant between the Parliament and the services.

This poem is as apt now as it was when it was penned.

We are the not dead.
In battle, life would not say goodbye to us.
And crack-shot snipers seemed to turn a blind eye to us.
And even though guns and grenades let fly at us
we somehow survived.

We are the not dead.
When we were young and fully alive for her,
we worshipped Britannia.
We the undersigned
put our names on the line for her.
From the day we were born we were loaded and primed for her.
Prepared as we were, though, to lie down and die for her,
we somehow survived.

So why did she cheat on us?
Didn’t we come running when she most needed us?
When tub-thumping preachers
and bullet-brained leaders
gave solemn oaths and stirring speeches
then fisted the air and pointed eastwards,
didn’t we turn our backs on our nearest and dearest?
From runways and slipways Britannia cheered us,
but returning home refused to meet us,
sent out a crowd of back-biting jeerers
and mealy-mouthed sneerers.
Two-timing, two-faced Britannia deceived us.

We are morbidly ill.
Soldiers with nothing but time to kill,
we idle now in everyday clothes and ordinary towns,
blowing up, breaking down.
If we dive for cover or wake in a heap,
Britannia, from horseback, now crosses the street
or looks right through us.
We seem changed and ghostly to those who knew us.
The country which flew the red white and blue for us
now shows her true colours.
We are the not dead.
Neither happy and proud
with a bar-code of medals across the heart
nor laid in a box and draped in a flag,
we wander this no man’s land instead,
creatures of a different stripe – the awkward, unwanted, unlovable type –
haunted with fears and guilt,
wounded in spirit and mind.

We are the not dead, by Simon Armitage.

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