by Edel Burke

Those sudden pulses, rash,

impulsive, the heart’s rhythms

on the cusp of attack.


It happens in every war,

reduced to a single battle,

how you make ground or lost it.


You’ve never known this state

before, what it feels like.

what a rush of blood can do.


You’ll never see the violence

in a plan or a photograph,

what remains is this —


the charred and battered body

left on the side of the road;

a signature on the death warrant


of a best friend, his own groomsman

Only months before; the afters

of all the ransacked towns, set ablaze


So much to learn, what war does —

its rough terrain, sends you to the hills

leaves you empty-handed.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Galway City Museum  on 5th and 12th of November, 2022. The workshops were led by writer Gerry Hanberry.

Inspired by various documents in the Poetry as Commemoration document pack which can be found here.