Poetic License: Letter to mother

As part of a new series to bring you poetry about Blackpool and written by Blackpool poets, James Panter shares a few verses to honour those that gave their lives for us all. His poem, inspired by Remembrance Day, it loosely based on his great grandad (pictured), who served in the First World War and later in the Second as a radio operator.
Letter To Mother
James Panter

Dearest mother, it’s your son William

With what little time I have I thought I’d write you
to check in on you and dad, how are you two?
How’s home, the town, and our neighbour Jill
that bakery shop that’s run by Phil?
It’s crazy to think three years have passed
since I set track for Europe with that worn grey bag.
Fear is what I imagine you feel most nights,
a constant wonder if your son’s alright.
Perhaps vivid dreams that bring about fright
cloud your mind and test your might.

Well, Will’s alright.

Remember how we’d play as kids with sticks as guns?
Only in the innocent mind of a child could that be fun.
See these sticks we have now are tools to end lives,
remove the soul from a body and make widow a wife.
A choice I thought I’d never have to make,
I hope God can forgive me for the lives I may take,
although I feel he’s abandoned us all in this place.
How could he ever take sides in this case?
They’re calling it no man’s land where we shouldn’t set foot,
there’s no protection there and the thickest of mud.
Lifeless bodies, artillery holes,
empty shell casings and so very cold.
I’ve seen horrors I thought not possible by men
everyday folk pushed to the brink, I ask when
do we lose our humanity and become just a shell?
Home must have been heaven as this sure is hell.

I have to believe this all has a purpose,
to keep our shores safe from those who may hurt us.
To give a generation a chance to thrive
even if the cost is I won’t see 25.
It seems war has always been in our nature on Earth.
I long for the day when we can fix things by words.
What is the worth, in all that is lost?
I guarantee it doesn’t outweigh the cost
of never seeing your loved ones again,
to leave them behind with heartache and pain.
But I hope I make you proud Mum. I WILL see you again,
but for now I must go as we’re due heavy rain.
We have tracks to make to ensure that we’re safe
i’l’ write you again and won’t leave it too late.

With all of my love,
William Baines

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