Bland On Bland – Dixie

Photo By Jools Thatcher
Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “ Dixie “.

And I am  back.
First show for 2014 and I am back in the studio with JVG for the first time in over 9 months. And I get to have Ed doing the backings. Brilliant

I have to tell you, it  feels good.

To hear this week’s poem – just click the “play” button below:

Also have a listen to the songs on my latest  album “Angel In Reverse


Prior to World War Two he was a missionary priest
But the devil and man’s cruelty, not so different a beast

Whether savages or soldiers, saving souls, his stock and trade
He enlisted, as a chaplain, in the 23rd Brigade

Sailed from Darwin up to Timor in December forty one
Surrendered two months later but the fight had just begun

The records list him missing, though he was very much alive
Then a blank, till liberation, in September forty five

No mention of his journey: the resilience and fears
The brutality and hardships that filled those missing years

Traumatised and troubled by all the things he saw
He could not resume his calling on returning from the war

Retiring to a cottage in the monastery grounds
He withdrew from public life and sort peace in his surrounds

He tended to the gardens and laboured on the farm
After all he must have witnessed he deserved a life of calm

Amongst his few possessions when he died aged eighty two
A keepsake of his years as a P.O.W.

A mess tin, called a “Dixie”: part of every soldier’s kit
In itself, nothing special: it was what was done to it

He’d engraved on every surface: with what, we’ll never know
A log of all the years, the records did not show

Java, to Changi, Formosa to Japan
The Burma Thailand Railway, Manilla and Pusan

Finally, Manchuria, till eventually set free
A journey thousands started: a day many would not see

Meticulously entered, though his tools, no doubt, were crude
His “Dixie” ripe for etchings: it saw so little food

I wonder, as he etched, if it ever crossed his mind
This tin might be his epitaph: all he left behind

In appalling conditions he found a way to cope
Armies’ march on stomachs: Faith survives on hope

© Copyright 2014 Ian Bland

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