Soldier – the short listed poem

This is the poem that was short listed for the Fish competition. I wrote it after I realised that when I saw D in his uniform, amongst a load of others similarly dressed, I couldn’t pick him out from the crowd.


I don’t know the man who stands
Camouflaged, in green battledress,
Feet apart, straight back, still hands,
Unwitting, not dressed to impress.

Camouflaged in green battledress,
Hard-cropped head turned away,
Unwitting, not dressed to impress,
Despite glossed boots, badged beret.

Hard-cropped head turned away
Exposing bare, vulnerable neck,
Despite glossed boots, badged beret,
Braced shoulders – a flawed effect.

Exposing bare, vulnerable neck,
Pulse rippling beneath soft skin,
Braced shoulders, a flawed effect,
Veiled gaze, attention within.

Pulse rippling beneath soft skin,
My son’s rifled brow, drilled with lines,
Veiled gaze, attention within –
Then blue eyes lift, smile into mine.

My son’s rifled brow, drilled with lines,
Feet apart, straight back, still hands,
Then blue eyes lift, smile into mine
And I see the boy within the man.

About SallyJ

I am a writer and a poet.
This entry was posted in poet, poetry, Uncategorized, war, writer and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Soldier – the short listed poem

  1. Sue Judd says:

    Love the ‘Soldier’ poem – written from the heart and a great use of the pantoum form – glad you’ve shared it.

  2. Sandra Curtin says:

    A beautiful poem. It’s not surprising that it reached the short list.

  3. SallyJ says:

    Thank you Sue.

  4. tashtoo says:

    Sally! This gave me goosebumps! It must have been quite the feeling, realizing you couldn’t recognize your son. The form is fantastic! The rhyme is effortless. The writing is powerful, just that simple! Well done!

  5. Jo Bryant says:

    Wow Sally. No wonder this was shortlisted.
    “Pulse rippling beneath soft skin,
    My son’s rifled brow, drilled with lines,
    Veiled gaze, attention within –
    Then blue eyes lift, smile into mine.”

    love this stanza !!

    With a son in the Navy – this really spoke to me personally. 🙂

  6. A smashing poem – i could feel your pride at the end – and the form is perfect to create a feeling of a homogonous group in motion (as if they were on parade or marching in unison) – very clever and a fantastic example – fantastic

  7. hollyheir says:

    Stunning! Every line made me say WOW! And fantastic variation in the last line when you went past full circle and brought the poem straight to the heart. Excellent write. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. marousia says:

    Wow indeed! Stunning use of form – powerful and authentic

  9. hobgoblin2011 says:

    Sally, thanks for the write it was very good. I’m glad you shared it and I had the opportunity to experience it. A really nice piece, that I for one enjoyed:)

  10. C Rose says:

    You did a powerful job capturing the moment you describe. Really well done ~ Rose

  11. brian says:

    wow…powerful write and beautifully rendered…a heart tugger as well in it being your son…you have to be so proud of him…smiles.

  12. Like some precious jewel, this poem sparkles! And the last line reaches a crescendo of sacred radiance!

  13. Reflections says:

    Beautifully filled with staunch power… with ease and crease, they press on for those of us left. A truly heartrending piece. No wonder it was short listed. Smiles.

  14. SallyJ says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments – they are so encouraging – Jo , you must share that feeling that when sons put on uniforms they are subtly changed. I admit to loving pantoums, which helps I expect. I love the luxury of being able to explore the same line twice in a poem…self indulgent maybe!

  15. CC Champagne says:

    If this is your self indulgence then I hope you do a lot of it! So much vulnerability and yet so much… Shielded power? I don’t know if that is exactly what I want to express, how I felt reading this, but I hope you get it anyway. Brilliant, simply brilliant! I have to go back and re-read this!

  16. lucychili says:

    beautiful and scary

  17. rmp says:

    so beautiful and touching. you really worked magic with this pantoum.

  18. Pervagus says:

    Really like your pantoum Sally. Excellent rhyming and the parental heart warms at the end. Lovely 🙂

  19. SallyJ says:

    The response to this poem has been heartwarming – thank you everyone, I really appreciate the comments.

  20. Just beautiful! Wonderful detail. Altogether an excellent pantoum.

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