Monday, 1 April 2013

New Poem of the Month for April - NPM #1 - 'In their soft footprints ...'


I walked a short distance
and found my tree,
so dusted and hung with soft chiming bells
draped with memories of souls who came before.
I met a man shrouded in dirty smoke
He spoke to me of life
No god could bear to walk this churning earth
or cast a smile on this bloodshed
He was a flickering soul,
and brought with him gun smoke, sweat and brotherhood.

He took my hands 
and dirt fell away from his fingers
He said
'There is no-one who should rule over the very lives of others'
His cooling blue eyes, enraptured in fear
needed no words to express
that death was just a quiet footstep behind
That the reasons once held tight,
never came with him to these shores
He is so bitter and young
and will come home a man of a different hue

It's National Poetry Month!! Woohoo *cheers, trumpets and all that jazz!* I thought I would do something very special and personal. The picture above is of my Great Grandfather Thomas Coggrave on the day he joined the army in WW1. For the whole of the month of April I'm going to take a walk down my family tree and write a poem about some specific ancestors. There will be 6-8 in all and they will all connect to make a series of poems. 

Tom is one of my favourites in the family tree (I hope none of my other ancestors mind). The poem is based around a conversation with him and I have set the area (loosely) as France/Belgium. When he first signed up he was sent to Egypt, I have no idea what he did there but his main role in the War was to lay communications which was an extremely dangerous job as he would have been in the line of fire for most of the work. We think towards the end of the War he came back to Europe and (so the family story goes) was shot out of a tree by a German sniper. The Germans then took him to a hospital where he had to have his right hand and part of his arm removed because of shrapnel damage. I have a very sweet memory from my Nana (his daughter) - she told me of him cleaning her face with a flannel wrapped around his 'stump', he was a determined man and had to learn to write with his left hand. My Nana loved him dearly and I think she was always saddened that she didn't get to know him more, he died 22nd February 1941 when she was 12 - he was just 44. 

He came back from WW1 an atheist and with beliefs in communism and socialism - I have mentioned this in the poem with his loss of faith in God and authority. He even refused to go near a church again and didn't attend my Nana's christening.

If no one else finds my NPM series of poems interesting at least my Mum, me and my future children will. I'm sure this will be a personal project I will treasure :)

I hope Tom Coggrave would have enjoyed this small tribute poem to him (great last name isn't it and it only comes from Yorkshire! - first recorded in the 1500's in Howden, East Yorkshire) and a big thank you to Mum for the idea. Happy Monday.


  1. Love this, Jade! It's so full of tenderness and love and such a vibrant historical sense one can't help but love it! *hugs*

    1. Hi Steph

      I'm so glad you love it! It's lovely to see you in the blogsphere lol :) Thank you so much for the compliments *hugs back*