Gen 5 [Post-War Life in 4 Stanzas]

Bonnie Goodfellow

1915 was a very good year
I’m sure, for some.
Though not for granddad, shell-shocked
and on his way from lone pine.
[HG] Wells warned when war began:
only [German] militarism’s defeat would
bring an end to war – the war to end all wars.
Courage in failed offensive
was held dear – comforted with knits – sent
oaty biscuits, cigarettes, to soothe soggy tent-mates.

By ‘39 did Versailles end all peace?
As leagued nations joined
beleaguered markets,
re-tooled industry failed returned soldiers.
Those learning hard how to make do with little
found themselves fit only for more war and arms-making.
Did Wilson show them how to make our world safe:
to arm and kill, in order to preserve our freedom?
By second war end, more men returned home:
harmed or armless; if only we’d disarmed then.

In ‘64 did you still need me…still feed me?
We were cajoled to read against the grain:
to find new ways to frame
and shatter old dischords,
to break gridlock swords.
Yet flower power and maned musicians
just distracted us
from mega-death decisions.
Nixon’s only truth untold – he managed not to call
Vietnam, our war to end all wars.

1989 and www when the wall came tumbling down.
If people now, like wire-less kids, take to streets,
do they refuse – or learn -
to take up arms? Refuse to fight like
fodder, fed to generals’ wars?
Why is a hammer (without sickle)
the only tool for united fronts?
With end of wall-divides,
might we yet see other views than our own?
All things, good and bad, led to 2015. For our grandchild
is the answer to the meaning of life still birthed in war?