Ghosts of War

I hear them gearing up for battle –

old war-horses brought back

to drill us with intemperate speech.

Mothers and fathers, wives and children

urged on to crowd the roadsides and cheer.

We’re here again, but this time,



Our cries break amid the traffic,

warn raw recruits to question their orders,

ask them to consider where they’re going.


‘We joined young when our numbers came up.

We man the frontier wherever that might be.

And now the old men are sending us out again.

You will soon be tying yellow ribbons on trees.

We’re either in their jails or at their wars

leaving everything to those at home.’


Imperial dreams are revived in secret

while weeds grow in the centre of the city

and basic needs of many remain unmet.

We ask for security in our own country

but the young are sent to foreign lands

where blood disappears in the sand.


Local reporters ask us gently

if we’ve recovered from the storm.

Have we repossessed our own houses?

Have our neighbours returned?

What do immigrant households face

when clerks are free to discriminate?

None of our friends evaded taxes;

but many are not allowed to vote.


Bodies drowned on desperate journeys

lie unclaimed along the shores of nearby seas.

Under grey skies we join the voices of hungry ghosts


based on Tu Fu’s Song of the War-Carts


About Nicholas Power

The poetry of Nicholas Power and his reviews of singular poems in a sequence titled Cadence.
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