or thought that we should go and ‘make a stand’
in foreign lands - those places on a map
with borders shifting in the bloodied sand?
No longer having privates to parade
suppose those uniforms just gathered dust
in warehouses, with rows of hand grenades
(all out of date) and rifles gone to rust.?
Suppose the tanks had all been turned instead
to ploughshares, and those trigger finger skills
were used in fixing cars and baking bread,
constructing Lego, tapping at cashpoint tills?
Suppose those soldiers destined to expire
lived on unharmed and lovely, played unbruised
still with their limbs intact, and friendly fire
was just another name for barbecues?
Suppose bored surgeons took up tapestry
on silent nights in trauma wards, now bare,
instead of knitting skin and artery
and mopping up the bloody carnage there?
Suppose the Major Generals were diffused
made safe, and left to graze on their estates
and jingoistic marching bands reused
for floral dances at bright summer fetes?
Suppose these sorry telegrams decayed
in stationery cupboards, yellow-brown
and all the debts had long since been repaid
and grave-diggers laid off all over town?
© Clare Kirwan