Ann-Marie Spittle

GOODBYE TO YOUTH

Wave us off to our deaths
The fresh faced children of your country
What horrors will we face in lands of far away?
Dare we imagine the fates that await us?

We are all smiles and caresses
And full of songs of possible triumphs
The band plays and we feel unstoppable
And the old soldiers nod at each other
In a secret code of knowing

The training that seemed so hard is now a memory
And we bask in the light of our adulation
As the ships leave port and sail to our future
And into Catholic Hell

We have no time to catch our breath
As overhead the bombs and bullets fly
We run, and all too soon the realities flood in
As does the rainwater and mud that surrounds us

Moans rise up
And calls to home wail on the wind
And we are numb from it all
The rain feels warm upon the skin
Compared to the feelings that we have

And then a voice that has drummed into out very core a reaction
Calls us back to the world and we are at war
And we see the truth that our callow youth has clouded
And we know why the old soldier’s eyes look distant
When our uniform meets his gaze

The day’s rage on, and then the years
But what difference does that make in Hell
For each day is the same
Lives lost, friends lost, hope lost
Until the letters come

Home is the lifeline of sanity
The Oz of our lives
Oh that we could be lifted up and returned there
But on go the barrage and the blood

Then the day comes
And we are to return to the land of our fathers
But when we return we are shadows
And our families must light us back home with their love
And bring us out of the Hell of war

We return men
But at what cost to our souls?
And as we walk the streets on Remembrance Day
We remember the battles, and our lost friends;
And are the callow youths we were once more

Submitted for the May 2005 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Callow