The Chief of the Army’s General Staff
Rolled up his battle-plan maps,
Then turned and said with a gentle cough,
“There’s a further matter, chaps.”
Already risen, the Brigadiers
Looked around in mute surprise.
They’d thought the briefing over and ended.
One saw it in their eyes.
Quickly they hurried back and took
Their leather chairs again.
The Commander said, “We must select a Poet
To cheer the enlisted men…
“…An Official Bard, one that we
Can count on to inspire—
One who’ll write anthems that the troops
Will remember at The Wire.”
Under his breath, each General there
Murmured, muttered, and cursed.
He’d not been schooled for such as this
In the halls of old Sandhurst.
“Whom shall we pick?” the Leader said,
Kipling? Or Hardy? Or Brooke?
To help you choose, I’m passing about
Each poet’s latest book.”
To a man every General in the room
Gave off a muffled groan,
Then faced with the fact of poetry
Fell silent as a stone.
But salvation came from a Hero
Risen from the Junior Ranks
(Who, of course, were packed in the rear
Like mackerels off The Banks).
An outspoken aide-de-camp cried out
With passion in his voice,
“Not Modern Poets, sirs! Oh, no!
Let The Classics be your choice!
“Not Kipling nor Hardy nor Brooke—
Not any living bloke!”
So ardent was his vehemence
His tenor quavered and broke.
“Live poets are always changing.
Their minds we can’t control.
For Shakespeare and Milton, safely dead,
Let printing presses roll!”
The Senior Officers stood and cheered,
“Hear, hear! Hip, hip, hooray!”
Letting the Lieutenant’s suggestion
In triumph rule the day,
Whence came those anthology pages
Issued downward by The Brass
That were used along The Western Front
By Tommies to wipe their ass.
And that bold Junior Officer?
That piper who called the tune?
There’s a strong, strong rumor that his name
Was something like Sassoon.
Women with the blues,
Women with the blahs,
With pints and pints
Of chocolate Häagen-Dazs.
Men, on the other hand—
Men choose mangled meat
On white bread buns
With a side of fries
When they sit down to eat.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia area many decades ago, Anthony Harrington was educated in a local seminary where he was exposed to the Classics, Philosophy, and Theology, strains of which keep showing up in his verse. Semi-retired from an undistinguished career in sales, he lives with his wife, Natalie, in Alpharetta, Georgia. His dog Oliver also lives there, but Harrington chooses not to mention him because he can’t read. Harrington was the featured poet in Light‘s Winter/Spring 2014 issue. For more of his work, visit http://harringtonverse.blogspot.com/