A Conversation With Death

I always thought of death as the enemy, this dark figure that would take your hand and never let it go, as he walks with you to the gates of Hell. He’d offer you to go to Heaven, because he already knew that’s what you’d pick, as he waits for you to make your choice, he says:

“You’re free to choose, son, so what’s it going to be?”
“You can either chose heaven or chose heavenly.”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” you’d tell him, at last
“Can I have some time to think,or do you need my answer fast?”

“I’ve got all the time in the world,” he’d smirk “so, don’t feel stressed.”
“Just chose whether you want to be worshiped,” he whispered “or blessed.”

“And all the other boys? Can you tell me what they chose?”
“Apologies,” he admitted “but I fear nobody knows.”

“So this is it? I have to pick one of the two, without knowing which holds whom?”
“For one might be my resting place and one may be my doom.”

The devil thought silently, before he muttered under his breath,
Perhaps he shouldn’t live to see what comes right after death?

“Rather I could take you home,” he offered, “if that is what you desire?”
And so the soldier turned his back to that heavenly angels choir

Took the devils hand, and together they walked back
To where the devil had before so ruthlessly attacked.

“Thank you,” the soldier spoke “for yet another day.”
“Don’t mind it, it’s what you deserved,” death would say

We All Fall

I know I’m human, like everyone else, and maybe it’s arrogant of me to say this, but I never expected to get shot. Perhaps the red cross on my arm made me feel safe or was it the unrealistic dream that people knew they weren’t supposed to take me down. I was a medic after all.

Is this what they felt? All the people I’ve helped before, as they lay crippled in the sand, seconds before it’d swallow them whole? This burning ache in their chest, which wouldn’t stop, no matter how hard they screamed, no matter how many prayers they spoke, this was their reality.

My reality.

I think it’s fair to say that I was in pain. I had never understood it, not completely. I had seen people cry out loud for their mother as the torturer stripped them from their breath, and now that he marvelled over me, I couldn’t hold back my grunting.

It was almost funny. It could’ve been a joke, would’ve been a joke if it wasn’t myself laying there. Running towards me, silent but swift, was a medic.

A medic who came to help another medic. 

I told you it could’ve been a joke. And I would’ve laughed, if it hadn’t been for the devil who send acid through my veins. My face flashed in horror and pain, the expression I had seen often enough to know what it looked like.

Was this revenge? From all those I couldn’t save, to make sure I’d respect them more? Because if it was, it worked.

Their history had become my own. Their yesterday my reality. And I’d make sure their tomorrow, would be my today. 

The short story was based on the picture above, of a medic being helped by another medic during D-Day.

Take My Hand

The smell of death
You’ll never know
Caused by the fallen
Down below

She takes you
In her suffocating hug
While she silently swallows
The holes you have dug

The men that have died
Now reduced to mud
As she takes the rest
Of the life you may got

She won’t have mercy
She’ll whisper her song
To the wounded and dying
That here just don’t belong

The land of the living
The sky of the dead
For you’ll never remember
When Death and you met

This poem was inspired by a friend of mine, Nick Geerling, who has a Second World War German trench in his backyard. I stayed there last Thursday, together with my brother and himself. It was an amazing experience and above all he documented the whole day for his youtube channel, link below.

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

Our Father Who Art in Heaven

Dear god 
Could you please tell me why,
Demons fall and angels fly?
Why hell is hot,
And heaven’s not?

Dear god, 
Could you perhaps explain,
When something hurts you call it pain?
Why my every tear,
Is just called fear?

Dear god
Why do these crimson stains 
Act like unbreakable chains?
Why am I kept
Free but still trapped?

Dear god
Why do you never reply?
Is it that busy up in the sky?
Why are you silent,
Peaceful but violent?

Dear god
Why did you leave us alone?
Golden mind but heart of stone
And why when we say
We did it the wrong way
You don’t say anything

Dear god
It’s not that I don’t believe
That your love was never received 
It’s just that my heart of faith
Has been met with colder days

Dear god
Could you take my hand?
For with two, stronger we stand
My legs are shaky, I’ll likely fall
But next to these man, I feel ten feet tall

#god#faith#believe#war#soldier#fighter#sad#grief#death#tears#poem#poetry#poems#battlefieldpoetry#historiansunion#blackandwhite#blackandwhitephotography#blackandwhite_photos#ww2#wwii#history#lestweforget#remember#pain#church

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