I was at a Remembrance Day ceremony today and heard this awesome poem. After the service I met Bill Kearns -Bush Poet, the great man who wrote it and asked his permission to share it here. It is so appropriate, not only for 11-11, but for every other day of the year too. It gives you a good dose of gratitude! Enjoy! Check out his facebook page for more poetic gems!
Be Mindful… Pause… Connect! – John Shearer MM
Several years ago, some service medals were found at a rubbish dump. They had belonged to an old man who had died recently and it brought home to me the fact that the casualties of war were not all confined to the battlefield. And so I wrote:
THE GHOST OF PRIVATE BROWN © Bill Kearns
“Deceased Estate” the notice read and “everything must go”,
A house and worn out furniture was all there was to show
That old John Brown had lived at all, he died sometime last year,
This final chapter written by the local auctioneer.
The sale was not a big event and didn’t take too long,
Worn out people bought the worn out goods and mainly for a song.
A battered cardboard box was left and a dried out greenhide whip,
And the auctioneer’s offsider dumped them at the local tip.
I was down there when he dumped it, I was dumping rubbish too,
And as I passed the broken box, I saw a flash of blue.
I wondered what it might contain in idle speculation,
But the contents of that cardboard box were quite a revelation.
Some tarnished service medals and some ribbons I did find,
And a letter from a soldier to the wife he’d left behind.
These pitiful reminders of some sixty years ago
Were all there was to tell the tale of a man I didn’t know.
For John had heard the call to arms and served his country well,
But he didn’t find adventure, Private Brown walked into hell.
With five good mates from his home town he’d set off for the war,
With a patriotic vagueness of what they were fighting for.
But cut to bits by shrapnel or a bullet in the head,
By the time the war was over all of Johnny’s mates were dead.
And as each soldier met his end and gave the sacrifice,
A part of John had died as well, for that was Johnny’s price.
Just an automatic soldier he survived from day to day,
But why he tried to stay alive, he really couldn’t say.
And when the war was finished and he’d faced his last attack,
His spirit stayed with those who died and just his ghost came back.
He came back to his wife and son and tried to start again,
But where his spirit once had been was now just endless pain.
And a man without a spirit lives his life in disarray,
For though he loved his wife and son, he drove them both away.
In aimless desperation he just drifted ‘round this land,
Tormented by the demons that he couldn’t understand.
His nightly sleep was fractured by the sounds of bloody battle,
From the fearsome crash of mortar to machine gun’s deadly rattle.
John was wearied down with age and condemnation of the years
As he battled with his demons and a flood of unshed tears.
He lived his final years away in total desolation
Between the pub and his verandah in lonely isolation.
So I picked the medals up for I thought this was a disgrace
That the local tip was to become their final resting place.
They deserve a place of honour as befits a soldiers life,
For they represent a life laid down and not the years of strife.
For many soldiers left their spirit on the battlefield,
And carried to their graves, those painful wounds that never healed.
So may the memories of ghost soldiers like old John Brown stand tall,
For in many ways ghost soldiers paid the highest price of all.
I love how you wrote this. Thank you for sharing it. <3