Offcourse Literary Journal

Two Poems by Stuart Airlie.

horrible men


"They don't really do you any harm,
mostly. Maybe
one or two.

"But they're all
horrible men
just the same.

It's the money, though."

horrible men.
old, fat,,
or none,
or all
of the above.
Drunk sometimes.
Young often.
Married more
than you might hope.

Some horrible men
keep their horribleness
at home.
the solitary net;
is trouble;
hurried, iffy, sticky.

But most important is
never to endure
the look

(not contempt, but that's
close enough)

in her eyes.
And dating; what people do; dating,
terror in youth,
outstrips even pathos now.

not pitiable, not pathetic;
horrible men.


War Graves in Flanders.

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined—just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around;
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Thomas Hardy, "Drummer Hodge."

Bobs died while inspecting the troops on the Western Front on Nov. 14, 1914, at Saint-Omer, France. At his funeral his body
was placed on one of the gun carriages from the Battle of Colenso [South Africa] where his son had won the Victoria Cross.

from Waterford City History. [on Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, Pretoria, and Waterford.]

Not much changes now
Nor above: row on
Row, whited uniformity
Marks the canceled dead,
Crossed out of them,
In unbroken Regimental squares
By the living in some foreign corner,
To the calls of sad shires.

BUT "Bobs" came 'ome,
Kiplin's bleedin' gin'ral,
Wot wangled
Ruddy's boy
'Is one-way ticket to the Somme
'Is Commission in the Oirish Guards.
Lord be sure...
Of Kandahar, Pretoria, and Waterford
Shares his crypt with
Nelson, with Sidney, and with Doctor Donne,
(Lord Cornwallis rests upstairs).
His coffin was borne
On a gun-carriage from
Colenso, captured by
His son, dead
(And honoured royally)
In the attempt.

"Bobs," was fetched
Solemnly, processionally
Drummer Hodge,
Thrown in to rest
Just as found, lies
Beneath his mound,
In this, and this only,
Like the unnamed dead
Of Marathon.

This ain't no bloomin' ode,
But you've 'elped the soldier's load,
An' for benefits bestowed,
Bless yer, Bobs!

Rudyard Kipling, "Bobs."

Stuart Airlie's poems have appeared in Offcourse #14 and #12.


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