£1000 in prizes in our War Poetry for Today competition

Letter to a Soldier from Another Time By Shirani Rajapakse

Would you have believed that rifles

and bayonets would give way to machine


guns that rip holes in bodies faster than

it took to load a cannon and fire? Would


you have believed that flares lighting the sky,

gas that ate up flesh, turning your sight to water,


the stench of rotting, rotting, would one day

be replaced by missiles screaming obscenities


through the skies to land in other people’s homes,

in kitchens as they cooked, anywhere,


everywhere, turning the children in their wombs

into monsters no one wants to look at? White


phosphorous devouring bodies alive like

vultures black as the night. Would you


have believed soldiers sitting in trenches shivering

in fear of an enemy to pounce would be replaced


by drones, unmanned, firing on targets, anything

that moved, non discriminating it could be the enemy,


a child going to school, a woman doing the washing,

an old man walking down the road. Anything and


everything that moved. How cruel is the world that

invents misery in the hundreds, how insignificant lives,


how selfish is man that he profits from war

fills his coffers from the sale of weapons, destroying


lives because he doesn’t like what they say

or do while somewhere in a land he doesn’t care


about someone is busy filling graves faster than he

can dig. War is fought not in open battlefields,


in pits and trenches like yore but from faraway

places in air conditioned comfort. What would you


have said had you known? Would you have

been as appalled as you were then?

see more submissions for the £1000 in prizes in our War Poetry for Today competition click here