FEET – poems

One of the most enjoyable things I did recently was read the manuscript of FEET. Elsa Fischer had asked if I would write a ‘blurb’ for her collection coming out a few weeks from now. Elsa’s poems from her two pamphlets (Palmistry in Karachi, Hourglass) have featured here in May 2020.

erbacce press in Liverpool run an annual poetry competition. In 2012 I was a runner-up and had 12 poems in the quarterly magazine, along with an interview. There were around 6,000 other entries. This year over 15,000 poets worldwide sent a selection of their work. Elsa’s submission was one of three to achieve publication.

Elsa was a young child in The Netherlands during WW2 and her collection includes some poems about that experience. Here is Hunger Winter about the winter 1944/45, followed by the poem Remembrance Sunday.

Veteranendag, Den Haag

Since 2005, the last Saturday in June has become ‘Veteranendag’, a day to honour the more than 100,000 Dutch veterans. There is a flypast and a parade of over 3,500 serving soldiers, several forces’ orchestras, old and new equipment. On the Malieveld, the large green area near The Hague central station, are marquees and vehicles. A good PR opportunity: the army, navy and air force all need recruits …

Hunger winter

To blunt the pangs of hunger
my mother would copy recipes.
In her wartime diary, between salmon
mousse and boeuf bourguignon I find
the birthdays of uncles and aunts,
lists of friends, their ‘phone numbers
in four digits. Crossed out the names
of those who perished. Lines of French
poetry: how dawn had chased the night
the poet would have wanted to last longer.
A list of socks, hats, underwear and who
she knitted for. A monthly record of her
bleeding. Exclamation marks around my
name on a page in September.

Remembrance Sunday

One hundred years old.
And two months, he adds
and in my regiment
the last man standing.
Holding a globe
he points at El Alamein.
That was a good one, he says.

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