‘True Stories of Men at War’
As fathers stroll home from work
there is no birdsong and the November light
is all but gone.
Small boys run amok in avenues,
take cover behind privet hedges –
the smell of cordite, heavy in the air.
Over the traffic, the sound of battle:
grenades whistling overhead, the sporadic
rattle of toy guns from doorways.
At teatime, those whose turn it is
break cover, make a zigzagging run for it
shouting – ACHTUNG ACHTUNG.
They go down in a hail of bullets
competing for the most dramatic death.
The pavement is so littered with Germans
the men must pick a way through
to reach their gates and take their sons
down paths into quiet houses.