“Some one had blunder’d”
Tennyson: “The Charge of the Light Brigade”
Parade of faces, broadsheet wise, all spent:
Gibraltar Forward Operations Base,
Afghanistan, 2 Para, last week’s news.
As liable to be killed or maimed as in
the First World War, you chase the Taliban
through corn high as an elephant’s eye, point-blank:
pure comic book, like rabbits in headlines.
It’s called “The Mouth of Hell”: the constant threat
of skirmish, mortar, sniper, mine, vest bomb;
phone pictures for the blokes back home – “Respect!”
No wonders why or truck with politics,
the recipe: take youthful fervour, add
close comradeship, fall pride (“No holding back”),
incessant drill, adrenalin; stir well.
No pause for air cover, boots melting in
the sun, hit them head on: “They choose the ground.
No sweat, we charge straight through their ambushes.”
June 12th, you’re tossing sweets to kids who laugh
and point beyond the track across a stream.
You take a look. They open up, sheer weight
of fire indelible: “Hard rock ‘n’ roll.”
“Man down!” You’re hot as blazes till that first
shot’s fired, then cold as ice: slow – quick, quick – slow,
weird time. Word’s out two more have done and died.