Poppy, burning with stolen blood,

That should have an empire fuelled,

With science and art and thought,

Instead poured out onto unworthy fields,

To feed your duplicitous growth.


You seem to speak of the beauty of sacrifice,

A fragile thing from devastated ground but,

You are tougher than you would have us believe,

Your fiery blossom distracts us from your rough stem,

Forged  from the sinews of dead men.


Your likeness in paper and silk,

Is, by children, solemnly placed,

Beneath the names of boys who gave,

Still budding youth to feed you.


Your image and not your seed now the opiate is,

Metamorphosing murder to Glory,

Slaughter to Honour,

Shame to Pride,

So we, like Haig, can assuage our guilt,

At sending thousands to die,

And, with a smile,

Send thousands more.


We will remember them,

We will remember them,

But you help us to forget and instead plant an hallucination,

A children’s cartoon of Bravery and Glory,

Not mechanical death amongst mud and gas.


In Flanders’ fields the poppies grow,

But in our mind has taken root,

A lie.


8 Responses to “Poppies”

  1. Interesting piece. Love the opening stanza.

  2. “stolen blood,
    / That should have an empire fuelled, / With science and art and thought,” – So true. Your lines remind me of a speech I heard where the speaker said that those killed in the Holocaust may have been great scientists or wonderful violinists.

  3. Oh yes it seems like we have all the Flanders field and the gory of the WWI on our mind these days.. so many horrific things grew there.. and somehow even the poppies seems to be tainted with the young men’s blood afterwards.

  4. We work awfully hard to forget them, and to see war and guns as glamourous. They aren’t. Thank you.

  5. Beautiful remembrance of our war dead (my father included). This is the second poem in a row that’s mentioned Flanders that I’ve read and it is so apt as we recall those who have sacrificed all.

  6. we do try to pretty up the gruesome thing that is war….so brutal…and all the bodies…

  7. Yike. Very nice write though, for sure. 🙂

  8. Sad and lovely, altogether. very Nice!

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