Tag Archives: The Somme

The Somme Sunset

Sun swollen
reddening as it sank
that brutal bloody disc
scored by church steeples
and chimney stacks
almost lost in the drifting haze
of sulphurous yellow
and char-black smoke.

Duck boards dip
into the sodden earth
as men tramp along in conga lines
holding tight the pack of the man
in front, lest they should slip
lose quick their footing
be sucked down and smothered
by mud.

The walls of the tunnels
are packed earth
rich with blood and bone
bits and pieces of human
anatomy dangle and hang
as if posed by an artist
with a strange and cruel eye
for detail.

The scrabble for fox holes
and rough scraped ditches,
anywhere, below the line of fire.
The ting and whiz-bang
of a night of action
The whistle, the dash
and the forward push
counted more in men
than metres.

© M.L.Emmett

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The Somme Offensive 1916

For nine days the artillery barrage
rained down on us
that June of summer in the Somme
machine gunners like me waited
in our concrete bunkers deep in the earth

When the shelling stopped
we rushed to the surface
and began our job of mowing down
the slow walking British Infantry
stoically advancing as if in another war
in another time where they might choose
to die bravely and with honour
a hero fighting for his life
his king and country

But here he dies unknown
by the chance turning of my gun
in his direction at that one moment
and the random number of bullets
left to fire.

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Filed under Poem, War