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Looking At Ghosts

I have been
looking
at ghosts

So young in that photograph
cropped hair, my jug ears
with some fixed smiles,
some forced leers.
I remember every face,
every single name;
our first few weeks playing
that barmy army game.

A few months later,
that cameraderie gone,
graded, selected, posted,
everyone of us moved on.
Most of them I was never
to see or hear of again,
but we shared that experience
of going from boys to men.

How many are alive,
how many are dead,
how many suffer from
 phantoms in the head.
How many are being hunted
for, what at the time
was life preserving duty but
is now considered a crime.

We were politicans pawn,
at the end of the day
to be used and abused
discarded, thrown away
until with the turning
of the politcal clock
 become sacrificial offerings
to be pilloried in the dock.

Did we give our youth to be
victims approaching old age
for political expediency on
the changing world's stage.
The armchair warrior
with his legal degree
is making rich pickings on
Veterans like me.

As for the public,
they dont want to know,
Its all in the past,
far too long ago.
I'll put that old photograph
to the back of the drawer;
the idealist that was me
doesn't exist anymore.

No more
looking
at ghosts.


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Looking At Ghosts