Three Poems by Eric Harvey

soft cartel may 2018

War Horse

Goodbye old friend, you’ve served me well;
you did your job throughout this hell.
Exhausted – now you’re lying here;
within your eyes I see the fear.

My pal is calling…let him go,
he’ll never learn, he’ll never know
how dire it is to lose a friend,
but I’ll stay with you to the end.

And if the Hun should come before
you’ve breathed your last in this damn war,
then, so be it, I’ll die with you,
for loyal friends must see it through

until the end, when we’ll be seen
as one – once more on England’s green
and pleasant land for which we fought,
to plough God’s fields as we were taught.

I hear the bullets whizzing by,
the screaming men, the battle cry.
You lift your head to shield my heart,
and bullets tear your neck apart.

I hold you tight with bloodied hand,
I try to rise, I try to stand.
I feel the shrapnel from the shell–
Goodbye old friend, you served me well

Of Mice and Men

We had a little visitor,
his fur was brown and white,
He ran into our lounge one day
and gave the wife a fright.

He popped out of the skirting board,
and scurried ‘cross the floor,
The wife has said she does not want
to live here anymore.

I said ‘He was just curious-
a gentle little mouse’
She said, ‘Then let him poke around
in someone else’s house!

If he’s not gone by Friday night
I’m going back to Mum’s,’
I thought about it long and hard
and fed the mouse some crumbs.

I bought myself a humane trap
to catch my furry friend,
and placed it where I knew he ran,
so I could apprehend.

Next morning when I checked the trap
my little mouse was there,
I tried to pick him up but he
just zig zagged everywhere.

I took him to the garden shed,
where my wife never went,
My sanctuary from nagging voice
where happy hours were spent!

Went to the shop and bought a cage,
to keep my new friend in,
We got to know each other as
I taught him discipline.

The wife began to rant and rave,
when I went to my shed,
Suggested I should pack my clothes
and move in there instead.

I’d had enough, she drove me mad,
she tried to spoil my life,
That’s when I went back to the shop
and bought my mouse a wife!

Needless to say, they got on well,
if you know what I mean!
Within six weeks the babies came,
I counted them – FIFTEEN!

Then five weeks later…more arrived,
I was inundated
Words In my book ‘How mice can breed’
are very understated!

And so my master-plan was born,
I let them loose inside
the house that she had made her own,
since she became my bride.

I sat there in my male retreat,
and waited for the screams,
Sure enough, they deafened me,
but fulfilled all my dreams.

She didn’t even pack her bags, she
ran back home to mother,
A pair of whingers – it was clear,
they deserved each other!

And me? I love it on my own,
surrounded by my mice,
It’s great that she’s not here to moan
it really is so nice.

I cut my toenails in the lounge,
walk bare around the house,
No one to nag, in fact, it’s just
as quiet as a mouse!

The Chimney sweep

I was six years old, going on seven
When Jesus called the old man to heaven.
Least, that’s what I think – he may have gone down
He’d feel at home wearing the Devils crown.

Me mam had run off six years before
Last thing we heard was her slamming the door,
Left six hungry kids – including meself
No food in the parlour, no bread on the shelf.

The old man tried to keep us together
Went lighting gas lamps, out in all weather,
That winter was bad and he caught the flu
His last words to me were ‘You know what to do’.

We didn’t cope long, we just couldn’t survive
So we went to the workhouse to stay alive,
But the beadle was bad, an evil man
Took advantage of my big sister Fran.

I discovered Fran softly weeping
Said I’d slit his throat while he was sleeping,
The beagle decided that I had to go
Knew I’d keep my promise if I should grow.

So, now I’m leaving to earn my keep
The workhouse sold me to a chimney sweep,
A wretched geezer known all over town
For his grumpiness and constant frown.

The fat old man – as I’ll call him herein
Wore most of his last meal on unshaven chin,
His crumpled top hat and stained waistcoat
Showed up the red neckerchief around his throat.

His corduroy trousers were tied at the knees
With pieces of old string, if you please,
Above well-worn boots, although looking strong
Causing white sparks as he shuffled along.

His face was lined with the grime of years
And long silvery hairs grew from his ears,
His nose was quite bent and sat to one side
The smile on his thin lips had long since died.

At seven years old and as thin as a rake
I was willing to get anything I could take,
But the thought of those chimneys so dark and dank
Filled me with dread and my heart it sank.

Well, it was either that or become a thief
And no matter what – I was not a tealeaf,
So the fat old man complete with his frown
Slapped me hard as he dragged me through town.

For an overweight man he walked at a pace
It seemed as though he was in a race,
I toted his rods and black sooty brushes
As through crowded streets he grunts and rushes.

The noise was terrific, men were shouting
Young boys were fighting, women were touting,
Their wares from baskets as others greet
Among infestation upon the street.

Thin donkeys tugging at overladen carts
The pieman selling his pastries and tarts,
The clatter of hooves on hard cobbled floors
Half naked women at open front doors.

That place was quite bad, but then he turned right
Into a dark street where we lost daylight,
The buildings so close, as if to be pally
A sign up above read ‘Blind mans Alley’.

The darkened alley had never seen sun
The stench emitting was second to none,
Then the fat old man stopped dead on his feet
As the contents of a chamberpot met the street.

His filthy black fist he shook in the air
But the hag that had thrown it hadn’t a care,
And so we continued through that dingy hue
Till suddenly daylight, the sun shining through.

The town was now gone, the noisiness died
As we walked at a pace through the countryside,
Two lions on post and there- in between
A house of grandeur such as I’d never seen.

A cold looking house but two storeys high
With ugly chimneys which reached to the sky,
A panelled front door, its paint freely peeling
Was opened by a woman, cold and unfeeling.

We were ushered into a stately room
Quite light and airy, yet so full of gloom,
The unpolished table had seen better days
With dust swirling madly through the sun’s rays.

The fat old man wrenched the rods from my shoulder
As he pushed them together my blood ran colder,
He shoved me toward the black chimney throat
Into that cavity – dark and remote.

With brush in hand, I started to climb
Up through the caked soot wet with slime,
My knees were bleeding as I tried to grip
Skinned my knuckles as I tried not to slip.

When I got higher the space became tight
But thankfully above me, I saw daylight,
I gave one last push, my body was crammed
I started to panic as I became jammed!

I could hear muffled voices, way down below
My mind was drifting from lack of air flow,
My breathing was harder, I tried to move
But my disposition didn’t much improve.

My head was spinning as loose soot fell down
So much so, that I feared I would drown,
Then a warmth from below as if to berate
A fire had been lit, below in the grate!

The smoke stole the last breath that I had
And there in the gloom, I could see my old dad,
Coming toward me – offering his hand
As he took me from hell to the promised land.

Eric Harvey is a retired poet and lives in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, in the heart of England. He is already an accomplished and published poet who writes in traditional rhyming style. His first book of poems was published in March 2018 and covers World War One and the aftermath, it tells the story of soldiers who leave home to join up, what happens during the war and up to the cessation of hostilities and the return home. He has also had several poems published in anthologies. During his spare time he is a Quizmaster and compiles and presents monthly quizzes with all proceeds going to childrens charities.

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