The King's Shilling

by Audrey Slattery

The commanding officer reported
He was missing from tattoo
Fined for drinking on the dates
The news of the deaths came through
His brother killed in action
In the hell of Gallipoli
His infant daughter’s death
At the hands of the auxilliaries.

They knew he had served the empire
his hand blown off at Verdun
Took the king’s shilling with his other hand
And a rifle to kill the Hun
And the king’s shilling was wanted
For hungry bellies at home
And the widow’s penny would be dispatched
If all was lost at the Somme.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Tipperary Studies in March 2023. The workshops were led by writer David McLoghlin.