Poetry

How Far to Lashkar Gah?

By 1st January 2006December 9th, 2019No Comments

How far is it to Lashkar Gah,
To Helmund’s vale and Kandahar?
There where two pleasant rivers flow,
And groves of pomegranate grow?

Too far, too far. One thousand years,
Along a road of bitter tears.
Through bloody crimson poppy fields.
And evil is the crop it yields.

So we shall send a NATO force,
To guide them on a better course.
There is a plan; we have a scheme,
“Provincial Reconstruction Team.”

And while you’re building twelve new schools,
The shadow-men, who know no rules,
Through fear, and not the rule of law,
Have closed one hundred twenty more.

Oh cynic you! Is it not strange,
How people there all pray for change?
And with us wish to build and learn,
So with God’s will, the tide will turn.

One thousand years, in peace and grace,
The Sultans ruled that fertile place.
Then Mongols came one fearsome day,
And they imposed a “better” way.

But they brought fierce and savage days,
Of tribal feuds and war-lords ways,
How can such tales, so far away,
Have bearings on our plans today?

From Ghengis Khan to Tamerlane.
Through Ahmed Shah Durrani’s reign.
With British intervention thrice.
Who set the cost? Who paid the price?

Ours is a democratic voice,
We act upon the peoples’ choice.
The cost? The price? Part of the game!
And what we do, is in your name.

Can you recall the “Hill of Bones”?
And General Burns and Elphinstones?
When Akbar Khan so gravely lied,
And sixteen thousand British died.

But that was born of treachery
And lack of skills in soldiery
This time we have good faith, and trust
And all will see our cause is just.

Four decades on, close to Maiwand
A thousand soldiers of our land,
Were killed by Afghans in one day.
Please learn from this. Or learn to pray!

Forget the spectres of the past.
For we shall go, the die is cast.
Morale is high, our troops fear naught,
And all deserve our best support.

I could not grudge our troops goodwill.
I pray them well and free from ill.
Come home each one from Kandahar.
God keep you safe in Lashkar Gah

Paddy Slevin

Author Paddy Slevin

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