Into the Jaws of Death

By 5th April 2009December 9th, 2019No Comments

“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.

Peter Branson

Author Peter Branson

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