Rough Men

They called us “rough men”,

back in that autumn,

that perfect autumn,

but they didn’t know who we were.

 

We were captured

in pictures,

now old,

greyscale and sepia-toned.

 

By winter

we would all be ravaged

and the idea of us being

“rough men”

held a different meaning.

 

Many succumbed,

to wounds,

to frost,

to madness

and yet we carried on.

 

Day after day,

night after night,

through field and forest,

roads through hedgerows

and small towns everywhere.

 

I don’t think

we would have believed you

if you told us,

“Spring is coming.”

 

Victory parade.

White picket life.

Fast, new cars.

Life would be good

and we would be the reason.

 

Blood.

Blood bought the land,

but it cost more

than we could ever imagine.

 

All the pricey booze

and high class hookers in the world

can’t erase

the crimes,

the scars,

the screaming.

 

Dead men.

Women.

Children.

Our lives built on these

without a thought.

The men who put them there,

they are less than a memory.

 

Called out once or twice a year

to salute the flag

and pass the torch

to a new breed

of “rough men”,

who will stand against

another insidious tide

and may God Bless them.

 

The perfect autumn.

We have some time now

to rest and remember,

but we have already forgotten

and that is why

they winter will come again.

And we will have need

for rough men.

To build a new foundation

for the world.

 

HG – 2018

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