Forgotten Heroes

Written 2020, after the suicide of a returned soldier friend of mine.

The streets and the gutters and the pavements have spawned
Those returned from the wars that the public have scorned,
The invisible army that no-one has mourned.

Some of them die by their very own hand,
Unhonoured. They did not defend their own land.

Weep for the undead, unbloodied, bowed band.
They sprawl in the dust, dishonoured, unsung.

Heed their sad plight. These warriors belong
With the Anzacs. They have done nothing wrong.

Give them hope, give them help, heal their wounds unseen.

They have fought in cruel wars in nightmares obscene,
In battles with strangers where they shouldn’t have been.

They obeyed the rash orders of Powers-that-be
Who didn’t consult with you and with me,
And who now evade responsibility.

Forget bright ribbons and badges of brass.

Save parades and emblems and wreaths that won’t last.

Give our men what they need: reprieve from the past,
A roof over their heads, an income that’s stable,
And a job to perform once they’re feeling able.

Take them out of their cars and off the cold street.

Give them hope, give them honour, instead of defeat.

Let no more of them die in despair at their fate.