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Paul Cochrane Feb 2017
The green handbag,
Clutched close,
Constant companion,
Matching clothes?
Not always.
Where did you go today?
The green handbag,
Loose change,

And pension book.
Made up?
Take a look!

Where did you go today?

The green handbag,
Memory sac of
Nooks and crannies,
Papa, Grandkids,

Aunts and Grannies.
Where did you go today?

The green handbag,
Held to heart,

Perched on knees,

A medicine chest,

With pain to ease.
Where did you go today?
The green handbag,
Where did you go today?
Pointless question, Usual answer.

As ever ­ ‘Up the Toon!’

Too soon,
Not today.

The green handbag,

Not clutched,

Nor held,

But at the foot of your bed,
A reminder of hope,
Where did you go?

The Green Handbag,
Sits at my Dad’s feet.
A monument to love,
In fading verdigris.
The green handbag was my mother's constant companion in the last years of her life.
Paul Cochrane Feb 2017
Dying for The Redoubt

Dyeing for Empire,
In Anchor Mills,
Building the wealth,
Colouring twills.

Weaving the pattern,
Cutting the cloth,
Meeting wee Margaret,
Pledging his troth.

Production line,
Jobs to be learned,
With regular work,
Money is earned.

Marriage is joined,
Making a home,
Child after child,
Seven are born.

Then Serbian guns,
**** Franz the True Heir
And domino treaties,
Fall without care.

Thomas enlists,
September 14,
Despite family of seven,
He dons khaki green

He felt it his duty,
To fight for the King,
Old Georgie was grateful,
Though he knew not his name.

“I, Thomas Cameron,
Do swear I will be,
Faithful and true,
To His Majesty,
King George the Fifth,
His heirs and successors,
According to law.
So help me God.”

With serious intent,
Asunder from Margaret,
One oath was rent,
For an oath to the Monarch.

Till death us do part?
Unbreakable bond,
Thrown over in faith,
In his fellow man.

King George had another,
Under Kitchener’s gaze,
To widow a mother,
He marched to his grave.

Given a number,
To **** off the ***,
Thomas was marked,

The Highland Light Infantry,
Reached Mesopotamia,
To satisfy Asquith’s

The soft underbelly,
Of Ottoman Turks,
Would weaken the Germans,
With attacking force.

March by the Tigris,
Dust covered dusk,
On to Dujaila!
Onwards we must!

Surprise was obtained!
The Ottoman fled!
Victory ours!
‘Retreat!’ Kemball said.

‘Retreat? When we’ve won?
Retreat when it’s ours?
“Retreat!” Kemball barked,
“For orders are orders.”

“My Plan must succeed!
The barrage goes in,
H-hour is later,
Then we can win.”

Reoccupied trenches,
Redoubt filled with men,
Pushed by their officers,
At the end of their guns.

“Now we advance!”
“Now we attack!”
But Ottoman guns,
Began shooting back.

What enters the mind?
Of a dutiful man,
When the officer’s whistle,
Gets drowned by the sound,
Of the maelstrom of bullets,
By the thousands of screams,
As man after man,
Sings his own requiem.

Lay he for long?
Did he pass without pain?
Or agony prolonged,
Ere he passed on the plain?

Still he lies there,
A husband and dad,
Dying for Empire,
On the Road to Baghdad.

Lest we forget,
His name lives evermore,
Inscribed on a plaque,
On old Basra stone,

But I’ve yet to meet,
From the day of my birth,
A man who did know,
That he lived on this earth.

And who suffered most?
And what was it for?
This desperate campaign
This war to end wars?

Our Monarch still reigns,
With others in line,
Have we learned our lesson,
For the next time?

This Remembrance Day,
Whatever goes on,
Spare part of your prayer for,
Private Thomas Cameron
Private Thomas Cameron was my great grandfather killed in Iraq in 1916.
Paul Cochrane Feb 2017
Man is cruel, Man is kind,

Far from home, on arid land,
A litter fell on Arab sand,
Mother’s milk did taste so sweet,
She foraged out on hostile streets.
At night as humans sealed their fate,
By leaving each to nature’s fate.

For food and water the ***** did *****,
That pup and her could live in hope,
Each win brought forward sunlit dawn,
The pup awaits her new day morn,
Till one desperate day the padding paws,
Of mother did not return at all.

Weak abandoned, struck with stones,
The starving pup abandoned home,
Cruel sun and humans tortured her,
And she decided she’d had enough,
Of constant hate and absent love.
Allowed by Law of God above.

She crawled with last remaining force,
And whispered with her throat so hoarse.
“Leave me be - beneath this bin,
When it’s over, throw me in.”
A week of cowering, ‘neath the steel,
Giving up each moment to mortal wheel.

Turning closer to the end,
Of pain, despair and suffering.
Whenever humans did come near,
With dehydrated constant fear,
She buried herself deeper down,
Away from hope in hopeless town.

One noise persisted above the rest,
But human kindness cannot expect,
A dog-eared dog in plastic shroud,
To welcome those inhuman crowds,
Whose only act in her short life,
Was taunts and stones and sharpened knives.

Still weakness and despair did come,
And to the gentle hand succumbed,
Unguarded neck - she did not care,
If flash of blade would cease her pain.
Light? Blinding sun! And sweet caress,
And milk? And water? And what is best!

The soothing stroke of calloused hand,
The coolness given as air was fanned,
And vaseline to smother ticks,
Head and shoulders, giving licks,
Of love and thanks to one whose kindness,
Battled through the Basra blindness,

The fate of Warpaws, so far away,
Was followed close by those who cared.
And all of those who did donate,
Were praying for her to be saved.
There’s millions more, but there’s no ban.
On trying to save the one you can.

So Alex, Jen and countless more,
You fought the fight but knew the score.
The chances of surviving past,
Emaciation and then at last,
Damage she’d never overcome.
Still - you tried to save this one.

Think on this now all is done.
Her final week – no baking sun,
Nor plastic melted to her skin,
But care and food and water in,
The faith of he who wrapped her up,
In tattooed arms of endless love.
Warpaws was a rescue dog in Iraq found by my cousin Alex Cairnie. He tried to save it and bring her home but was, sadly, unsuccessful.

— The End —