Shell-shocked from Korea

A grenade that left him

The platoon’s only survivor,

Put him in Stanley Royd

For thirty years.

He tailored there

And out on weekend leaves

He made and mended

Everybody’s clothes,

Crying copiously

While he sewed.

When they cleared out

The chronic cases

Uncle Bob came home,

Shopping for Edna,

Doing the garden;

When the lodger left

Without a word, the police

Searched his room,

The garden shed,

Even the chest freezer.

Oesophageal cancer

Is very final.

John, his son, waiting

To take the house,

Departed for a month’s fishing

Until it was all over.

As a last rite

They put him in the LGI

But I spoke to the houseman privately,

Pulling together the bits of a life

Wholly given over to others,

Fallen comrades, Edna,

The grandchildren

His pension went on.

The houseman agreed to speak

To the surgeon privately.

Edna went first and

At her funeral John,

In frustrated fury,

Hit him over the head

With an empty fish tank.

When secondaries started

I was not told

And in the hospice

He barely lasted

His first weekend.

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