A Poem for Remembrance Day

The Fallen Oak                                                                                   

I’m dreaming of swimming to a sandy beach
where mother holds my cake with nineteen candles.
          Try harder, blow them out, she says as I fade.
I wake up when the eels hit.
A pulse beats through the ship.
She splinters like a tree in a hurricane.
The old girl begins to tilt
falling and turning upwards, arse over tit.
I’m hanging tight to my bunk when lights flicker out.
Jimmy whimpers and Bertie yells shit!
Hammocks tip, we smack the deck.
The darkness bristles, fear and amber
edging the door.
The stench of burning oil and silence
descend as engines die.
Then the screams begin.

The screams begin,
descend as engines die.
The stench of burning oil and silence
edges the door,
darkness bristling fear and amber.
Hammocks tip, we smack the deck.
Jimmy whimpers and Bertie yells shit!
I’m hanging tight to my bunk when lights flicker out,
falling and turning upwards, arse over tit.
The old girl begins to tilt.
She splinters like a tree in a hurricane.
A pulse beats through the ship
and I wake up when the eels hit.
                    Try harder, blow them out, mother says as I fade.
She’s holding my cake with nineteen candles
and I’m swimming.

 
Note 1– The battleship H.M.S. Royal Oak was sunk by torpedoes from  German Submarine, U-47 in the harbour of Scapa Flow, Britain’s naval base near the islands of Orkney on 14th October, 1939.  More than 800 men died. The wreck is now a designated war grave and a site of remembrance.

Note 2 – The Fallen Oak is an example of a specular poem, where the second stanza mirrors the first.  They are a challenge but fun to write.

 

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Note 3:-  The Italian Chapel was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands.  Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive.

(Ref:- Wikipedia, photo taken by the author)

Note 4:- if you ever visit the beautiful island of Orkney, the Italian Chapel is a must see…a very emotional experience.

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