LeRoy’s Poetry


LeRoy Payne Peach

At the cenotaph the men of Vimy
stand in timeless readiness
as children, red-blazered strong and free
shower the national anthem
onto a stupified square.

In a shiver of sound and sadness,
a trumpeter buries once more the fallen
that age shall not weary,
their changelessness caught
by the gravel-voiced guns,
their wounds re-opened by the groan
of the bagpipes, their memories raised
like wind-assisted leaves
at autumn’s closing.

A lady in black, who knows what it is
to outlive her sons, drifts in a hush
to the heart of the ceremony
laying her remembered sorrow
at the feet of the nation.

Then the dignitaries, then the clergy
then the band.
A hundred thousand hearts beat
as drums, muffled reminders
of the life that might have been,
the freedom that is.

We are the witnesses, drawn in by death
swallowed up by sorrow,
transmuted by this remembrance.

Soon enough the scream of commerce
will silence our memories
and we will melt relieved
into a forgetting world.



LeRoy Payne Peach

These beaches aren’t the same; the sea rolls in
The rim of shore deserted to the sky.
Gulls wing and hover over bluffs.  The din
Of infamy is gone from the cliffs nearby.

There is no cry of anguish on this shore
From helpless men that cringe a t murderous fire.
No bodies float in water, no airplanes roar–
Only the voices of the seabird choir.

Where are the landing craft?  the valiant hearts?
The burning flesh?  the sickness of defeat?
Those are not here; instead the only art
Is brooding cliff and the eternal tide’s retreat.

But, ah, the town is ringing with parade!
And old men march remembrance in the street.
The rescued do not let their memory fade,
Nor do they tire of the freedom-beat.

For why should they forget the strife-torn years
When those so brave and filled with hope and youth
Went the dark road, entered the vale of tears
That we might cling to what we know as truth?

Let the pipes play, the drums beat down our grief,
Let old, be-medalled men march in this town.
Let freedom’s song ring out among the reefs
And raise the dead to soldiers of renown!


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