ANZAC Day

I have written a few poems about those who serve in our armed forces. I have released 2 in recent years, 1 just this year. “Lest We Forget” was written and released a few years ago and there’s a link to it on my Portfolio¬†page. I also released a poem called “Young Billy Smith”, also linked on my Portfolio page to their release on Facebook.

On this 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day and the landing at Gallipoli, I thought it appropriate to put them up on here for all who find this site and page to read. I have also put up “We’re All Australians Now” by Banjo Patterson.

 

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

Lest We Forget

 

I need to give a thank you

To someone I know not

Someone who’s long passed away

Someone that time forgot

Someone who’s just a memory

And left their family bruised

Someone whose final resting place

Their family did not choose

 

The calling they did heed

To go and fight on foriegn shores

And stand up for a way of life

Defending rich and poor

To stand against oppression

Tyranny, and genocide

And would have gone down swinging

On the day they died

 

The saddest part of war

Is we know not where they rest

My heart it greives to give

A send-off worthy of the best

Their sacrafice was ultimate

The price they paid supreme

They gave their life for you and me

A hero not since seen

 

Then there are the others

Who returned full of regret

Lamenting that it wasn’t them

Whose final fate was met

They watched as mate and stranger

Dropped on either side

Whose memories and friendship

Now in those old eyes reside

 

Relieved that they came home

From a hell that they can’t shake

The wonder why their mate, not them

Still their heart it breaks

Their service and their sacrafice

A nation did expect

Our ANZAC’s gave us freedom

Liberty and respect

 

Those that serve us still

They do with ANZAC pride

In our hearts and memories

All of you reside

You fought to give me freedom

Laid down your life for me

A debt I’ll never be able

To pay back to thee

 

So every year on ANZAC

I’ll read this poem again

The only way I’m able

Say thank you with my pen

Know you’re not forgotten

And let us share your regret

Thank you to our diggers

God bless, lest we forget.

 

Written by

Matt Langdon

25/04/2013

Matt langdon 2013

For The Bush Verse

 

Young Billy Smith

 

The time was 1914

And the whole world was at war

T’was clear from all the hype

This had not been seen before

See boys would lie about their age

So they could go and fight

For God and country, English king

To show the allied’s might

 

Now two such lads from way out west

Fred Simpson, Billy Smith

Mates who lived on neighboring farms

And thought the war a myth

One day they just up and left

For Sydney’s sandy shores

Beaches they would barely glimpse

On ships en route to war

 

Now I could tell of horror

From within a frozen trench

Instead I’ll jump ahead

To a memory’s awful stench

Weak from illness, thirst and hunger

Somehow they met again

But their condition stole their memory of

Who, what, why and when

 

They were now so sick, they didn’t know

What country they were in

They only knew their orders

“Keep fighting, wear ’em thin!”

Then from nowhere an explosion

A mortar found the trench

The burning flesh of men

Fred never forgot the stench

 

Then there was another, and another

Yet one more

Fred was blown flat on his back

With shrapnel wounds galore

Dazed not dead, and just in time

Saw Billy, Matt and Steve

Get blown to hell, cause in a trench

No room to duck and weave

 

Once the bombs had finished

The only noise blood curlting screams

The kind of thing that haunts a man

Forever in his dreams

Then in the middle of deaths chorus

Fred heard Billy’s voice

And with tearful smile he punched the air

And started to rejoice

 

Short of breath Fred yelled out

“Bill I’m comin’ mate, hang on!”

And that 50 metre trek

Was like a bloody marathon

When Fred laid eyes on Billy

He quickly lost his voice

The realisation that

There was no reason to rejoice!

 

Billy’s legs were bloodied stumps

Of flesh and shattered bone

With broken back and punctured lung

Screams became a moan

With broken voice and teary eyes

Young Bill began to say

“I’m not gonna make it Fred!

I think it’s time to pray!”

 

Slowly drowning in his blood

And once the prayers were done

Bill asked young Fred to do him in

Then save himself and run

“Don’t let these mongrels get me mate

I’d rather it was you!

Then once you’re done get outa here

No point you dyin’ too!”

 

“I don’t know if you can see Him Fred,

But Yahusha, He’s right there!

And there’s somethin’ He said to tell ya

When we were both in prayer.

See I asked God to spare ya, my blood

Not be on your head

If you do me this favour, He’ll honour ya

Is what He said!”

 

“Now He knows you don’t believe in Him

But He said that’s ok.

He told me He’d watch over you

And we’d meet again someday.

Now He’s askin’ you to turn to Him

So He can show He’s real

He said that He would carry ya

And help ya start to heal.”

 

“Now hurry mate they’re comin’

Please end my misery.

They’ll just leave me here to die

Please mate, set me free!”

Fred knew if he left Billy

His death be painful, mean and slow

Bill was startin’ to cough up blood

His speech was startin’ to go

 

Now cryin’ uncontrollably

Fred filled his mate’s request

And rammed his bayonet

Through the left side of Bill’s chest

But instead of getting up to run

All Fred could do was cry

Paralyzed by grief

Fred just waited there to die

 

Now when the enemy came through

Shooting those that still had breath

Fred smiled up at his enemy

And waited there for death

But the bullet deflected off a rib

Fred was still alive

And his hatred t’ward this war and God

Is what gave him his drive

 

Now I’ll just give you point to point

For this next little bit

Fred fought his way to freedom

His enemies throats were slit

But he fought his way to freedom

One foot firmly in the grave

With shrapnel, bullet, stab wounds

He was either mad or brave

 

Wasn’t long t’was back in Sydney

Then back west out to the farm

Gave the news to Billy’s parents

And once again saw harm

Beaten half to death

Til Billy’s mum got in the way

T’was then they saw the shattered man

Who’d never forget that day

 

Jump ahead to wife and kids

And flashbacks every night

Bi-weekly trips with coppers

“Jen, he’s picked another fight!”

Abusing those who loved him

Pushing everyone away

And every year, on that date,

He’d cry and cry all day

 

Then one day Jen came home

And found him passed out on the floor

She grabbed the kids, packed their stuff

And quietly shut the door

For twenty years she tried to help

But he was too far gone

And his kids were so neglected

They wished they’d not been born

 

One more thing to add

To old Fred’s life of regret

The last thing he said to his kids

And they did not forget

“Get outa here ya mongrels!

Cause of you I’ve got no beer!”

The eldest grabbed the other three

And they all ran in fear

 

Now Jen went home to face him

She’d got a call at work

And after that they moved,

From Broken Hill to Bourke

That was last he saw his kids

Til his last day on earth

The very day they celebrate

His youngest grandsons birth

 

Now Fred sold everything he owned

And moved to Adelaide

Eventually found Yahusha

Found a church and there he stayed

Now the drinking stopped, the anger dimmed

But with grief his nights were filled

With the wife and kids he’d chased away

The mate that he had killed

 

Now Fred served out his working days

At his local RSL

Serving drinks and swapping stories

And remembering those that fell

But there is a story he won’t tell

One he wants to rewrite

And frankly who could blame him

He relives it every night

 

Now old Fred’s health is failing

In hospital he must live

And despite the fact he turned to faith

Himself he can’t forgive

But one thing Fred asks, every time

You see or hear him pray

To see his family and say sorry

For driving them away

 

Now Fred was being wheeled back

From another round of tests

Though unexpected they

Were some more that welcome guests

See Jenny, Max and Mary

Luke and Caitlin too

Were there to visit Caitlin

Whose pregnancy was due

 

See Fred’s boss at the RSL

And pastor at his church

Had seen through Fred’s defenses

And worked together on a search

To try and find his family

So he could apologise

And tell them all his story

Before he breathed his last, and dies

 

As he looked around the room

His eyes began to tear

At faces full of hatred

Wonder, pain and fear

Not knowing where to start

He simply said “I love you all…”

“But before I say I’m sorry

You need to know what made me fall

 

“Now I’m not tryin’ to make excuses

Or find a crutch so I can lean

But not dealing with what happened

Made me calloused, hard and mean

Not getting help was my fault

Jen did all she could for me

Maybe then you’d have a father

Not the tyrant that made you flee!”

 

Now Fred began to tell them

Starting with his childhood

Right through his return from war

And up to fatherhood

Now that had been the first time

Since Bill’s parents had been told

He’d told what happened when they

Were only seventeen years old

 

Now those faces full of hatred

Wonder, pain and fear

Were now eyes full of compassion

Tenderness, love and tears

But the part that broke his family’s heart

Was what Bill’s old man did

Cause he’d walked a path that no man should

While he was still a kid

 

Now he went on to tell them

Bout his move to Adelaide

Bout giving up the alcohol

The friends that he had made

Then finally he told someone

The worst part of his plight

That still what happened in that trench

He relived every night

 

Once he’d finished speaking

A brief pause and then he said

“I’m so sorry for what I did to you

Can you forgive a man near dead?

I know that God has given me

A chance to make things right

So you could hear those words and heal

Before He turns out my light

 

Three generations in that room

Their eyes all filled with tears

And what happened next, would be told

For many, many years

Fred’s youngest grandson restless

And refused to go to sleep

Fred had a nurse, the young bloke

Nestled in and went to sleep

 

Now they told Fred the how and when

They’d moved to Adelaide

Then Caitlin made a decision there

With her husband Wade

“Dad I want to honour you

And show you you’re forgiven

We’re gonna name our son

Fredrick William Fitzgibbon

 

Now when the tears stopped flowing

For all of them he prayed

But when they said see you tomorrow

His heart was heavily weighed

He knew his time was up

No more he’d relive that myth

The time had come to reunite

With his old mate Billy Smith

 

Now that story’s not uncommon

And I’m amazed how many ignore

The plight of those still serving

And veterans home from war

See they never seek out help

Which scrambles up their head

They think that no one cares

And suicide instead

 

So if you know someone who’s been to war

And come back traumatised

Don’t ever give up on them

Lest they end up victimised

They just wanted to serve their country

And they did with Aussie pride

Our duty once they’re back

Is to never leave their side

 

When we think about a soldier

We think galactic demi-god

A cold and heartless killer

Like an African death squad

But they are only human

They’re just like you and me

The difference is, they’re the ones

Who fought to keep us free

 

Now I’ve got to ask the question

How many do we miss?

Who don’t know where to turn for help

And live old Fred’s abyss

See old Fred he was lucky

He had a mate who prayed

But many more have no one

And end their life dismayed

 

Now last night old Fred died alone

His heart had threatened for weeks

Clutchin’ Billy’s dog tags

Dried tears upon his cheeks

Regretting they’d ever tried to prove

That bloody war a myth

And haunted by the dying screams

Of his mate, young Billy Smith

 

Written by

Matt Langdon

07/01/2015

 

© Matt Langdon 2015

For

The Bush Verse

 

We’re all Australians Now

Australia takes her pen in hand,
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand,
How proud we are of you.

From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobsons Bay,
Each native-born Australian son,
Stands straighter up today.

The man who used to “hump his drum”,
On far-out Queensland runs,
Is fighting side by side with some
Tasmanian farmer’s sons.

The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar
To grimly stand the test,
Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,
With miners from the west.

The old state jealousies of yore
Are dead as Pharaoh’s sow,
We’re not State children any more
We’re all Australians now!

Our six-starred flag that used to fly,
Half-shyly to the breeze,
Unknown where older nations ply
Their trade on foreign seas,

Flies out to meet the morning blue
With Vict’ry at the prow;
For that’s the flag the Sydney flew,
The wide seas know it now!

The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.

The honoured graves beneath the crest
Of Gaba Tepe hill,
May hold our bravest and our best,
But we have brave men still.

With all our petty quarrels done,
Dissensions overthrown,
We have, through what you boys have done,
A history of our own.

Our old world diff’rences are dead,
Like weeds beneath the plough,
For English, Scotch, and Irish-bred,
They’re all Australians now!

So now we’ll toast the Third Brigade,
That led Australia’s van,
For never shall their glory fade
In minds Australian.

Fight on, fight on, unflinchingly,
Till right and justice reign.
Fight on, fight on, till Victory
Shall send you home again.

And with Australia’s flag shall fly
A spray of wattle bough,
To symbolise our unity,
We’re all Australians now.

Written by

AB “Banjo” Patterson