old man Keats

i'm walking these empty lands
i'm old slow and graceless
the air's bracing a lonely cold

i'm enthralled by recollection
we here such love
so young

i lost limp onto war
black red military battle
the stench of dogma

i'm too slow
they execute could-be spies
dying surely waits for me

if i'm to die violent
i'll sneer the killers
i'll be all they can't

i shelter ruins
i lay my pack unpacked
groundsheet peasant food water
'hours of idleness'*

the battle flows turbulent
unpredictable waves conflict
the blood wash nears ebbs nears

those trained to die do quickly
survivors dance the killing ballet
turning luck burns their victory

a squad and sergeant tumble me accidental
glance aghast at my civil taunt
one lad speaks a runner runs

and returns a captain rides up
like the emperor he used to be
sad laughter the squad is guard

the battle sprints
the others swarm

but a man shouts 'old man Keats'
shock stop and hardly believe
both swarms curse and tension guard

sod the lot of them
when we were here
wilderness lovers
we were a better bang

even though i'm dead
i'm not allowed to die
but soon i will run the dark road
return to you

*byron's first collection

image: poem


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