Thom Boulton is a contemporary free verse poet who lives and performs in the South West, UK. He is Plymouth's current Poet Laureate.
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It seems that November (the ninth month of the Roman Calendar) is a time of remembering things. At the beginning of the month we celebrate Bonfire Night and this weekend it is Remembrance Sunday. Thanksgiving isn't far away, a time of remembering. The UN has a day for remembering road traffic victims. It seems to be a time of reflection. Last night a project inspired by the poppies:wave sculpture on the Plymouth Hoe came to an almighty conclusion. The live performances on the night were stunning and unique and everything good about poetry. Below is my write as Laureate.
I See A Great Hand Reaching Out
His hand reached out like a wave of poppies.
The stains of blood like crushed berries, the
juice of the laboured fruits trickling in the cracks.
Stretched digits clawed at a towering figure above,
a pair of shoulders strapped to an obelisk of flesh.
Intimidation was the first impression but, with the
escaping moments, worries dried and crusted.
When the hands of the pocket-watch cross they
briefly touch, a minute is all they get. His silver fob
dented by a bullet.
Each ear drum burst by the bolero of war. Perforation
had occurred across the whole of his frame, ripped
his pigment from him, colourless cheeks slapped cruelly
by trodden blades.
At the going down of the last supper the commanding
officer tore bread. He wondered if anyone would remember him.
The silence of the field
the horses back to life.
The smoke of the guns
pistol whipped the fog
that had lain in waiting.
His emotions escaped his eyes, glassy combers
that poured out and washed over the tall figure.
The wide gape of his jaws didn't help the words
escape. They remained trapped in his mind along
with all his future plans.
He stared into the face of the cold above.
Looking at the eye of a raven before it picks
your bones clean can fill you with regret. The
glare of the presence mistaken for hunger,
studying closer he saw it as anger.
The figure bent down and revealed herself.
Even yew trees bow when they sink caskets.
Her brow marked with cobalt paint that
flecked into shrapnel, blue shards cast down
adding to the mess. Each speck undressed,
noticing not paint but tears, tears that
left bitter trails.
Swaddled by his damp uniform, she scooped
Him up, nestled him to her chest and carried
him away to the land of the ever-young.
Boots once again stomped upon grasses,
each halm squashed, cut down by her force.
When the heel lifted, a wild flower grew, tender
thing that cast a shadow which engulfed the world.
"Will they never let this happen again?"
Her gaze missed its smile.
"No dear, but they'll remember they haven't
every time they touch your posy."