He strokes my neck like the barrel of a rifle
he might have killed that German with,
his boots by the door, susceptible to the cold.
I glow by the fire in tandem with
the rosewood dresser, impartial to flames,
me with a passion for granite, him
with his head shaved against the night,
shedding his armour plate by plate.
I sleep under his shield, enfolded
in an English flag I think will
become my shroud. While I thrill
among the lilies, placing a chestnut
on the grate like a move in chess,
I see the incentive of lace
defeat artillery hands down.
by Samantha Wynne Rhydderch
Interesting info: Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, sometimes referred to as S. W. Rhydderch, has published two collections, Rockclimbing in Silk (Seren, 2001), and Not in These Shoes (Picador, 2008), which was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2009.
Men were selected for the Vietnam war
by dates of birth. I watched a drama where
schoolboys sat round their own screens, waiting for
a voice to pick a date out of the air.
‘The twenty-sixth of June’. I felt a thrill
of horror, as the actors froze – that’s my
son’s birthday. Young men can refuse to kill;
much later on, they can’t refuse to die.
Now, the Reaper cuts a first swathe through
the ranks of men who did and didn’t fight;
no guessing if it’s him, or him, or you;
we’ll soon find out. It’s random, like the date.
The men, and smaller groups of women, go;
this is one war to which you can’t say no.
by Merryn Williams
Though we have parted, on my breast
your likeness as of old I wear.
It brings my spirit joy and rest,
pale phantom of a happier year.
To other passions now I thrill,
yet cannot leave this love of mine.
A cast-down idol – god-like still,
a shrine abandoned, yet a shrine.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov)
translated by Avril Pyman