The Butcher’s Poleaxe – #VEDay

Somewhere there is a poleaxe,

your sweat worked into the staff

from unbroken nights,

where the pig must not squeal.

Milk bottle spectacles

but no flame or light catching

in the glass reflection.

All of it done in the silence

that cannot be broken,

unlike the rules you’re cleaving

with each precise blow.


Hands returned to steering wheel,

on dark lanes winding home,

nose to windscreen

foot light on the accelerator,

you mouth curled in prayer.

May they not come back this way

with the fat bulbs unsown

on London, or Crewe,

or elsewhere deemed vital.

May they not discard their leftovers

on these field tonight.

Let the silence be unbroken.

VE Day 2020

Not long ago my mother told me about the poleaxe my great-grandfather kept in the garage. He used it during the Second World War to slaughter pigs, as it was more effective at killing them quickly before there was chance for them to make any sound.

This was during rationing, when there were limitations on the slaughter of livestock. My great-grandfather, a butcher with eyesight so poor he was unable to enlist, would drive to farms in the middle of night to do the deed. Headlights were not allowed due to blackout regulations, and knowing those narrow country lanes, I’m amazed he managed to avoid ending up in the ditches.

My Great-Grandmother, who I knew very well, would remain at home. The danger was not only getting caught, but from returning German bombers on their way home. Any bombs that were not dropped on the high-value targets were dumped out over the country-side. I remember being told stories by the Great-Grandmother, of how she spent night in the cupboard beneath the stairs, listening as the bombs dropped nearby.

After the war ended and rationing was lifted, there was no more need for the poleaxe, and no-one really knows what happened to it. I like to think that it is still in existence, perhaps on display, or perhaps tucked in the back of a cupboard.

Leftovers #DVersePoetics

If I was my mother,

and you were a horse,

I would not wrap the lead

into my fist

as we walk the track

with their ruined nissan huts

patch up by ivy,

so we can’t see through

the hollow sockets

of broken windows

to the emptiness inside,

always emptiness inside,

and always me with a fist

of lead

to draw you closer

to heel

in case the emptiness

is not what it seems.

Back To The Start… #DVersePoets

So it started with a broken laptop. Or maybe it started with your brother, pointing you towards a target, that wasn’t me by any means, but I was somewhere on the other side of it.

Or maybe it started with an offer made to my Grandfather, which he passed onto my mother and her new husband. Or maybe it started with a newspaper ad, Welshmen need not apply. Or maybe it started in Ireland, with a broken engagement and a ferry ticket.

Or maybe we are so far from the start there is no point loosing myself on the path back to it.

The sun rose again,

and the weather changed its tune

but that’s not the start.


Bard On Blore Heath – #DVersePoetics

One paragraph for all the lost bodies,

somewhere still beneath dirt and grass

and the slow trundle of grazing cattle

meandering, one fence line to another.


Musket balls get plucked up on odd days,

rolled across a palm like a marble,

dropped into a Tupperware tub,

they outlasted the bones and flesh.


A field with five hundred years to forget

yet the calf gets sick with lead

loses its eyesight to a pellet

from a gun fired half a century before.


History reaches past its paragraph

of three thousand nameless men.

Another misery of litter

leftover once the war was done.


Following tonight’s theme of smoke and mirrors, and feeling like the older you get, the less you actually know, I started thinking about how we learn about the history of warfare in schools. There’s a disconnect between the modern day and its wars, and battles such as the one at Bloor Heath* in Staffordshire where around three thousand men are thought to have died in the fighting.

It’s easy to look at these historic events and pick apart the motivations, and the mistakes that were made. However, when dealing with similar situations in more modern settings, the issue can often seem clouded.

I’m left to wonder what will be written five hundred years from now about the current wars being fought and the empires being built.

*The Battle of Blore Heath was part of the Wars of the Roses. I’ve been debating getting back into writing some historic posts so if you’d be interested in knowing more I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Would it be odd to re-introduce history posts onto the site?

Finding My Mother’s Amateur Jockey Licence #WeekendWritingPrompt

She put it to the back of a wardrobe,

in a bag of mismatched things,

none of any use these days

but none the sort you throw away.

The sort you keep until they’re found

by curious small hands cooped up

by the rain on window panes.

Discovering you before them.