Till Death Do Us Part

She stared at him from No Man’s Land, the smile he had fallen in love with, recognizable from afar. Her piercing blue eyes stared at him, as she kneeled down to his level, while he tried to stay hidden from the enemy, the trench his only way of surviving.

Her laugh echoed through the battlefield, as a chuckle escaped from the soldier’s own lips. He shook his head, she still was the silly girl he had lost his heart to. Without hesitation, she stood up, her dress not even dirty, and walked away through the bodies of the dead.

“Don’t go,” he begged, pushing one hand against the bags of sand that served as a wall. He leaned forward, his head now over the trench, an easy target for the other side. 

“Mary!” 

His yell came right back to him, while no one answered. She walked further towards the other line, the other soldiers, who would shoot her if they got the chance. There was no one to live for if she was gone, she couldn’t leave him, not now.

“Shut up, Joseph!” his friend said, pushing him awake. He returned the favour with a glassy stare, showing that the real Joseph wasn’t there anymore, that someone else had taken his face and worn it as he’d wear clothes, to fit in, to not be spotted.

“But…” he stuttered “Mary?”

“Mary isn’t there, Jo! You’re imagining things!” the other soldier responded, holding his friend’s shoulder, as he tried to climb out of the trenches and into No Man’s Land, wanting to be with the one he loved most, not realising if he did, he’d leave her to be alone with grief and guilt.  

“No, I’m not!” he screamed back. “She’s real!” 

With those words he climbed out of his hiding place, staying low none the less, so he wouldn’t be shot immediately. His dirty hands grabbed onto the mud, his ruined shoes got stuck in the barbered wire as he crawled his way up from Hell, to what he thought was Heaven.

“Mary!”

The enemy watched in pity how the soldier tried his best to find his loved one, while he took the chance of standing up, so he’d be able to catch up on his lover, as she walked casually to the Germans, having nothing to fear, for she wasn’t really there.

‘Mary!” he marvelled. 

“Come back! They’ll shoot you!” 

And that they did. Yet it wasn’t the petite body of the female which fell to the floor, yet the already rotten, scarred, limp shell of what had once been her partner, his helmet clattering in the mood, a loud thumb the last sound he ever made.

“Come back!”

This story was written a while ago, based on the so called “shell shock” and it’s symptoms. Shell shock is also a big thing in the Second World War, but it gets dubbed “battle fatigue” or “combat stress reaction,” shortened CSR

A True Soldier

Do you reckon they’d forget?
All of them now in my debt
As I safe soldier and son
Telling everyone we won

Do you think that they might
Not realise behind red and white
Stands a soldier all the same?
Always playing Satan’s game 

Cause after all they may not see 
For some of them just don’t agree 
That I stand there in between
Soldiers dressed in army green 

For danger might not see me first
As it swallows down the boys their worst
Screams they let out, anger they show
After years, He already knows

I stay there in the rubble, still
Treating men not yet killed
Always silent surrounded by
Men that likely one day die

I see the aftermath, the blood
All the tears these men‘ve got
But never will I tell a soul
Where all these lost souls’ll go

This poem was written inspired by the picture above from Hans van der Haijden, during the event in Merkelbeek on the 10th and 11th of May. It’s mostly focused on the nurses. On the picture you can see (from left to right) Markus Capelle, Henk Curfs and last myself. Markus Capelle’s Facebook is down below! He’s an amazing person.

https://www.facebook.com/markus.capelle

Smile

“Smile for the camera,” the cameraman said, only thinking about how it was victory, that they had won after so many tough times, going past soldiers to take portraits, like he did whenever the frontline fighting was over, to ensure his safety, yet also ensure this cloud of oblivious positivity. 

“Why should I smile?” the soldier responded, keeping an eye on the other privates digging a grave, while watching the medics get their supplies ready for if something might go wrong, all while some of the others played a simple game of cards, or wrote letters to loved ones. 

“Because the war is over, you should be happy.”

“I can’t, not after what I saw,” he whispered almost under his breath, sending shivers through the photographer’s spine. It was so easy to forget that some of these men had seen the horrors and terrors of years of war, brought to them on a silver plate every day, while he casually took pictures when they had as much as a second to themselves.

“It’ll look better when you smile,” he urged again, wanting to become famous after the war with a collection of breath-taking portraits explaining the side of war which he had seen, a beautiful and perfect world he liked so much.

So that’s why he at first wanted to not take the soldier’s photograph, because it was sad, as he stood there in front of the tent he had been living in for months on end now, because it wasn’t perfect and beautiful, it was rotten and above all it was real.

This story was written based of an event on the 5th of May 2019. The man in the picture is called Nick Geerling. I’ll leave a link to his youtube account, he has amazing videos. The photograph is from Patricia Geerling and edited by Nick Geerling.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8Yefv28y448lp_su2bZwhA

Teary Eyed

Tears that run like bullets
Over my cheek they flee
They fall down harsh and cold
Until I can no longer see

They create this tidal wave 
Of doubt, fear and regret
And just to remind me
I count the tears I’ve shed

In the bucket they fall
Thousand and thousand more
They run from my cheek 
Down to that icy porcelain floor

In the floor I see myself 
Crying and spilling tears 
My lips shut and broken
As I hold back all my fears

The tears they yell their reason
Why the fell in the first place 
They marvel the pain and sadness
As they run down my face

Some they are golden
And some tears are just black 
But the tears that are the smallest 
Carry the most weight on their back

This poem is very close to my heart, because sometimes the things I write speak words I can’t dare to say to somebody. And this one is an example of me writing what I felt that day. It’s a beautiful piece, but the reason that I think it’s so beautiful is because it’s about my own emotions. Therefor there is no picture.

In No Man’s Land

There he lay,
In crimson bathing,
His lifeless eyes,
Stargazing
His useless body,
Laying still,
No more breaths,
For his lungs to fill
No more days,
Yet to come,
No more watching
The rising sun

There he sat,
With bloody hands,
Mourning,
For his fallen friends,
His lips shut,
No words to say,
No call to utter,
Or God to pray,
With anger filled,
He grabbed a gun,
And fired,
At that rising sun

And so,
Night took over day,
Yet close,
Death would always stay,
He sat silently,
In No Man’s Land,
With a message,
For Heaven to send,
Of grief, sadness,
And the beautiful dead,
A message which is nothing more,
Than sad

I was allowed to read this poem during Poppy Day, for a group of current soldiers stationed in The Netherlands, back on 11th of November 2018

Field Medic

I know bullets will stop me
But frankly I don’t care
Because when they’ll be screaming 
I have to be right there

I know that I’m not invincible
That I can surely die
I know that I can’t save them all
But I just have to try

I know that those bullets
They’ll cut right in my flesh and skin
They won’t hold before the barrier
Of my everlasting sin

They won’t care for those I saved
They won’t turn a second eye 
They’ll only care about this everlasting
Sweet and rotten lie

No one really understands 
The impact of what I see
The choices I have to make 
Of which I eventually flee

My life it’s not worth the risk
But theirs is what I protect 
And even though my halo’s broken
My wings shattered and wrecked

I’ll always stand guard 
For when the evil takes a bite
Even though I’m a medic
You can be damn sure I’ll fight

French soldier of the 147th RIF (Fortress Infantry Regiment) having a tourniquet following a leg injury, May 14th, 1940. Photograph by Gaëliger Klair

https://www.instagram.com/gaeligklair/