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Passions in Poetry

The Flag

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since 12-08-1999
Posts 151
Auckland New Zealand

0 posted 12-14-1999 03:20 AM       View Profile for Rod   Email Rod   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to Submit your Poem to Passions  View IP for Rod

Earlier this year,  I chanced upon a poem on our local website which touched me to the extent that I contacted its author. It transpired that he had written it on the back of an old cigarette packet, whilst on active service in Borneo some 30 years ago. It had lain untouched to the present day, when he decided to post it. It was written shortly after his best friend was killed in an ambush. I asked if I might write something by  way of a tribute to him, to his friend, and indeed to all those New Zealanders and Australians who fought in the Indonesian campaign. He kindly agreed, and “The Flag” was the result.
For those unfamiliar with New Zealand - the star formation on our National Flag is symbolic of the Southern Cross - and the NZ is commonly referred to as “the land of the long white cloud.”

                                                      THE FLAG

                                                 Come, all who rise to greet each dawn in disaffected manner,
Yet daily walk in favour born of freedom’s sovereign banner;
Then ponder well your shield of Union flag and Southern Cross,
And edge in gilt the men who built her mast of tragic loss.

See her ride the wind with pride! She draws her halyards tauter,
In proud salute to those who bore her far across the water.
Her tribute to her sons and daughters, conscious of her price.
And those she lost, who paid her cost in blood...... and sacrifice.

Beneath the verdant canopies of Asia’s long campaign
The Kiwi footprint once was found where now it walks again.
Not river’s flow nor sunset’s glow its memory could erase
For one, its image long will carry, ‘til his final days.

Just one more Kiwi soldier with his sworn allegiance true
To banner starred and spangled bright on sea of royal blue.
In dire threat from forces dark and of his own perdition,
The politicians backed his cause -  with verbal ammunition.

As from their lofty corridors of self-perceived noblesse,
They gambled with the lives of men in Asia’s game of chess.
That you and I should live the joy of countless peaceful dawns,
Is not our debt to knights or kings, but courage of the pawns.

Ah, -  courage? Yes, they talk of her, in  eloquent oration.
Such plausible magniloquence concerning State and Nation.
Yet were they present with him in that bloodstained Asian river
With bayonet fixed, emotions mixed, and stomach churning quiver?

Alas - not so, it seems as though, the protocols of war
Dictate that they be far away upon a leeward shore;
Too far to see the jungle vast, nor feel its stifling heat;
Or hear the sub-machine gun blast its grim staccato beat.

As on that fateful day, patrolling waist deep in the slime,
Reality became his nightmare in a trice of time;
That fiery flash of ambush scattered all upon the scene
And stilled the heart of his best friend, who was a Royal Marine.

Who would no more the trial endure of suppurating sore,
The gauntlet of malaria, and leeches by the score,
Nor threat of rodent’s poisoned bite, nor sting of eyes infected;
He’d done his job, for them, for us, his duty as directed.

Now if the orators perchance to knock on Heaven’s door,
God grant it may be opened by a child of East Timor.
In battle past, the die was cast, but democratic right
Died in procrastination’s bloody never-ending night.

And so the child may lead them where the mists of time enshroud
A land where all men dwell in peace below a long white cloud.
Wherein her heroes gather still, in hallowed dawn parade.
They wonder sometimes....... “Is it worth the sacrifice we made?”

Behold these men assembled here beneath the Standard’s mast.
Beside each one, a vacant place, without a shadow cast.
Where souls of comrades lost abide,  by human eye unseen;
One Kiwi, one Australian....... and .............a British Royal Marine.

© 1999 Rod Walford

© Copyright 1999 Rod Walford - All Rights Reserved
Elizabeth Santos
Member Rara Avis
since 11-08-1999
Posts 9405

1 posted 12-14-1999 03:27 AM       View Profile for Elizabeth Santos   Email Elizabeth Santos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Elizabeth Santos

A beautiful tribute, a beautiful poem.
Your verses are wonderful. I enjoyed reading it.
Senior Member
since 11-08-1999
Posts 688

2 posted 12-14-1999 03:31 AM       View Profile for First__Knight   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for First__Knight

Thank you for sharing Rod.  I am an ex soldier of the US Army serving in Desert Storm and Panama conflict.  I can fully understand the impact that this makes....Again thank you  

 Share what you are for you are what you share

Member Rara Avis
since 07-17-99
Posts 8273

3 posted 12-14-1999 06:04 AM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn

Oh Rod. I am touched - partly by the story and partly by your awesome writing.
Fantastic - an 'ordinary working man' I think not!

You are a credit to all New Zealanders and you must submit this piece, Rod. Thankyou for sharing this.

Your fellow Kiwi friend, K.  
Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

4 posted 12-14-1999 07:10 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

I'm going to have to echo my friend, Severn, on this one.  I'm truly pleased that you've joined us here at passions.  Your talent is phenomenal (and your command of the English language ain' bad neith-uh).... I do hope you'll be submitting some of your work for posting on the main site.  Feel free to email if you have any questions on that venture...
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Member Seraphic
since 07-29-99
Posts 20770
on the threshold of a dream

5 posted 12-14-1999 07:36 AM       View Profile for suthern   Email suthern   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for suthern

Chills started at the back of my neck with the first verse and crawled down my spine as I read... absolutely awesome!
Member Elite
since 08-19-99
Posts 3134
Southern Florida

Official Passions Reader
6 posted 12-14-1999 04:32 PM       View Profile for Pepper   Email Pepper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Pepper

A deeply moving piece Rod...and I like the others am in awe of your talent....

 A soul that writes from the heart and shares it, truly gives a gift extraordinaire!

since 07-27-99
Posts 172
Auckland, New Zealand

7 posted 12-14-1999 05:18 PM       View Profile for Seaangel   Email Seaangel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Seaangel

Very moving, Rod,  and as a fellow Kiwi I salute your tribute to all our soldiers.
Member Empyrean
since 09-21-1999
Posts 28608

8 posted 12-14-1999 05:22 PM       View Profile for Martie   Email Martie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Martie's Home Page   View IP for Martie

Very well written Rod.
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Senior Member
since 11-02-1999
Posts 752
Torrington, Ct, Usa

9 posted 12-14-1999 08:19 PM       View Profile for Kevin   Email Kevin   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kevin

This is fantastic, it should be read by every high school junior, war and impact of war is a very stressed subject at this level, and i assure you that every bit of work i did last year can not compare to the meaning and signficance of this very poem,
this poem will last forever, if it dosent it has, and you rod, been wronged.
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