LAOCH
by Jeremiah Bragg
A stodgy old man
Lumbering along
Through the filth of the bog at twilight
An amber moon shines through the gloom
A solitary owl takes flight

Hear the sounds from the road up ahead
Tis the ghosts of Lord Kitchener’s Army
Clapping and shouting
Joyful music is played
From the usually mournful bagpipes

The high-stepping subsides before the old man’s eyes
As each soldier
Sinks beneath the muck of the bog
The last to sink low is a boy who followed
His heroes to their plight

The stodgy old man
Lumbers along
Through the mist of the bog at dusk
A blood red moon shines above the gloom
A solitary owl screeches into the darkening night

Where did youth go—off to war—to play
The game is gone the actors delinquent
Silenced by the filth of the bog at midnight
No clapping, shouting, or singing
Four thousand three hundred thirty are taken

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* laoch [noun]:1. (literary) layman. 2. warrior, hero.

Kitchener's Army, named after British war minister Lord Horatio Herbert
Kitchener, suffered great losses at the Battle of Somme, France, in World War I.
The force included many inexperienced, poorly-trained volunteers.
APRIL 2017