A prayer on the eve of War

A prayer on the eve of War. Copyright D. Archer 2013

A prayer on the eve of War. Copyright D. Archer 2013

I wrote the poem a while ago now and then realised it somehow fit quite nicely with the woodcut of Eric Gill that I tried to emulate a few weeks ago. The original image is called “The Soul and the Bridegroom” and as with all of Gill’s woodcuts they convey such depth and beauty. A typographer, printer, artist, sculptor and a man of many hats (and other vices). Plus, this is as close to Valentine’s day mush as I will venture this year.

One Minute Memory

Between the ordinary and the ornate
in an unloved, lidless tin box
countless, fading, tired and clichéd cards
untroubled his passing thumb until
a working girl captured
in sepia scarf and single pocket apron
sparked a one minute memory of her
before her hair turned,
before she became a photograph.

He remembered her
not in mantelpiece Sunday reverence
served with sweet tea and hushed tones
but how she was once young
before her smile began to fray
under the weight of a life spent giving
and the need for a white, washed front door step;
he remembered her last appearance
in and out of Chapel,
hands bleached so close to the bone,
her resting clothes paler than her flesh.

© D. Archer. September 2012

My father’s touch

What spares me the right
to earn my fathers touch in land
no man dare claim
for fear of death.

Shoulder to soldier
the dying and the damned,
the wind sirens
through the trees;
disquiet turns my mind.

Copyright D. Archer October 2011

The Field

No cenotaph this battle field
abandoned bodies
head to heel;
boys and men,
sons and lovers
those only the war
bound together as brothers.

Children all
in the eyes of God;
who knows them by name

© Copyright D. Archer October 2011


Frank takes a chance

I am going to the supermarket
to meet my future wife;
maybe we’ll meet in the frozen section
or when we reach for the same bag of rice.

I am going to smile at people
and speak to those
who speak back;

Frank, I am ging to look forward
and everyday take a chance.


© Copyright D. Archer October 2011

A friend who died recently believed in reincarnation, he lost his first wife and son in childbirth and thought he would never love again. He often spoke how he would like to return as typewriter that he may spend his days writing love letters to his wife.

He also believed that the universe combined to put his second wife in the supermarket at the exact time of day when he ran out of milk. They spoke about the last bottle on the shelf and they never stopped talking until he passed away recently. 


The Mourning Mud

To stand among the outstretched
growing waiting dead
as metal birdsong forward beckons;

To glance last time alog the line
as a thousand hearts
force a tide of crimson tension
taught through every vein;

Over, under cover,
swathes of gunfire,
no time between misses
to look back for pals
the mourning mud will
forever claim.

© Copyright D. Archer October 2011


When I am gone
heed these words
I do not want to be buried
in the cold with the worms.

Set me on fire
that my soul may fly,
and remember when I made you laugh
not when I made you cry.

Remember me
fat and happy,
caught off guard in photographs,
remember impoverished holidays
and shoes spilling from carrier bags.

Stand tall, tearless,
no broken voice should read these words;
pick a moment when I made you smile
and not the moment
I left this world.

© Copyright D. Archer October 2011

Crying myself to sleep

It mattered not
that I cried myself to sleep;
my heart raced
to a dangerous beat;
you cried for both of us
as I begged on bended knees;
my hands clasped in prayer to God,
in denial,
oblivious to your needs;
distracted by the universal truth
wishes are a waste of breath
too painful to admit in daylight
that is all that I have left.

© Copyright D. Archer October 2011

Out with the dog, back with a poem

The dog and I walk
flat top slag heaps
crushed cinder paths
atop a rich vein of verse.

Convinced all words will
soon fail me
I pray to the Mother
of Mother Earth.

My heart sinks
bitter back home;
my muse, my love long gone
but the dog still runs blindly
into the empty kitchen;
where like the sun
you once shone.

© Copyright D. Archer October 2011 

From the front

They’ll write of this in years to come
diaries and letters from loved ones
at the front
at the very beginning of war
this ideology lost
amidst tired grey wet endless noise
last moments spent among the already dead
the short lived mourn free
cutting among the fields
but for a few yards grace.

This time to sleep
to dream of fields not churned
disastrous incisions made from far away
have the deepest cut and cause
the deepest pain.

Letters hand delivered
the fear of the unknown, missing or dead
fear not death
for it comes to us all
but the fear of not living is hard to behold.

Copyright D. Archer October 2011