‘First day of being a "genuine" civilian again...at least as far as the Army was
concerned. R.A.F. reserved status helps (ironically)...’ ( Diary: Jan. 1st,
My father filled my head with his war.
Holding onto it, he loosed it off at stooges
who dodged the action, to defend himself
from wounds that flared up in dreams.
The Blitz: Ack-Ack duty in London Docks;
how an explosion could burst your lungs.
The Stuka that knocked his guncrew out
defending Exeter, and that plucky sergeant
wrenching away the revolver he held to his head.
Commissioned commando expendable
for special tours, after days dodging
patrols and cowering in charred streets,
he made it back to the right beach
on sour rice pudding and a pork pie.
But drafted to sit over France in a Wellington's
perspex nose, he riddled so many phantom
Messerschmitts, the crew dismissed him
as a bloody brown job and the medics
reopened their files to get him discharged.
Real as daylight to me, copying planes
from his R.A.F. manual, and tearing round
with outstretched arms and four engines.
Even Peacock butterflies had British markings.
No wonder I screamed and covered my face
when he aimed his stick at ten Lancasters
banking over sunlit woods in deafening
display, and shouted: 'We're in for it again.'
Taking Cover interlaces poems of the 32 page booklet, Learning Not to Touch, with
revised and new work appropriate to its main themes: childhood experience, bereavement,
spirituality beyond religion, and ambiguities in relationships with the human and
Earlier versions of some of these poems have appeared in:
Agenda, The Affectionate Punch, Envoi, Fatchance, Iota, Other Poetry, Poetry Now,
Prop, Seam, Smiths Knoll, Tears in the Fence, The Third Half, Weyfarers.
'Kent's Message' was highly commended in the Northampton Literature Group Competition,
The author's thanks are due to Redbeck Press for reissuing the contents of his 32
page booklet collection, Learning Not To Touch along with poems excluded for the
1996 competition and since revised, as well as new work felt to be contextually appropriate.
He would also like to thank those in his workshop group who have helped him over
many years and with great patience to rescue poems from paraphernalia.
The cover illustration is from an original woodcut by Edward Walters (1899-1978)
printed at his press at Primrose Hill, London.
'...The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel...'