dining car

Whistles, au revoir doors slamming, ‘All aboard’ and clackety-clack

Budding swains musing upon the delights of whores and debutants

Feigning enchantment when introduced to gentry’s suitor seeking daughter

Nodding more than just approval at the factory owners buxom lass

Either way just mere hors d’oeuvres for the idle young treasures


Halcyon day’s arid couplings of the little else to do

A Grand Tour’s Gare de l’Est embarkation Milan bound

Acid tongues, wet wit, surreptitious glimpses and crocodile tears

Oysters, chocolate pudding, pink champagne and gravy stains in the restaurant coach

Sleeper cars, bunk hopping farces and found out flushed faces

The days when a misplaced carpet bag was the end of her world

Just what is a chap to do?


How soon a summer ends

Sergeant majors, whizz bangs, mustard gas, and sodden trenches

Artillery bombardments, a double dose and a runny nose

Muck and bullets very own immodest sepulchre for torn pieces of mankind

‘Over the top’ upon a stagnant yet calamitous Western Front

In the not so safe hands of a God who forgot to look after his own sons





  1. Absolutely profound! The contrast is striking and very evocative. Much to ponder in the last line (which seems to have repeated itself over many decades)

    1. Odd you’ve found this one! Thought – as seems usual with WP these days – the ether had eaten it. Still not on my Facebook link or the reader thing yet got to South Africa…let my epitaph read, ‘The Man Who Understood Little of Anything’

      1. Deep and meaningful…I saw the other world once…during a lumber puncture when I had meningitis…it was very dark and not a lot going on!

  2. It’s excellent Mike, Juxtaposing the sunset of the Gladstonian Liberal political era along with the Edwardian social epoch with that of the tragic birth of the modern era.

    However, if I could play Mr Mephistopheles advocate on the last line for a bit more than a moment:

    Providence did not Apotheosis primary races like Darwinian social evolution and its concomitant: Hegelian-Marxism

    Providence did not order the Tsar to attack the Sick Man of Europe

    Providence did not call the Congress of Berlin and demand Disraeli, Salisbury, Bismarck, and Andrasse intimidate Gorchakov and Mother Russia so that the Sick Man might have time to convalesce

    Providence did not tell Rhodes and Jameson to annex the Transvaal without telling anyone – excepts perhaps pro Home union, pro-tariff Joey Chamberlain.

    Providence did not dictate Willie the Kaiser boy’s letters

    Providence did not advise Willie and ol’ Tirpitz to read Mahan, and challenge the British life-line – Sea Power

    Providence did not induce the Russo-Japanese tiff and the Tsar’s loss of wanted prestige

    Providence did not engineer the Agadir crisis and Willie’s self-perceived loss of international face

    Providence did not force the editors of every major European newspaper to allow poor journalism and its self-righteous indignation-filled articles

    Providence did not place sycophants like Bulow and Bethmann-Hollweg to cater to the 2nd Reich’s withered-armed Kaiser’s ego

    Providence did not command Jackie Fisher to erect and launch Dreadnoughts.

    Providence did not tell the Germans to refuse young Churchill’s arms-race Holiday request

    Providence did not plot with the Black Hand and assassinate the Crown Prince and his commoner wife Sophie

    Providence did not request Bethmann-Hollweg to ignore Sir Grey’s desperate pleas for mediation.

    Providence did not start the Trains of mobilization

    Providence did not turn the lamps out all over Europe

    Providence did not trample little Belgium’s neutrality

    Providence did not issue the order to inhumanely charge into No-Man’s Land.

    Providence did not cause Kerensky’s March Progressive Revolution give way to Vlady’s long October despotic nightmare.

    Providence did not tell Kitchener and Haig and Hamilton to waste innumerable precious lives for the sake of a few miserable yards of mud.

    Providence did not tell recruiters to use its name for the cause.

    Man, simple man and his choices however, did all those things. Man’s Vanity, Pride, Self-Aggrandizement, et al.,

    Remember, I’m Just playing devils advocate here. Your poem, in my mind, expertly and evocatively captures the sorrowful contrast of the end of one world and the beginning of another.

    1. That is some comment Sir and within its content not a word I could argue with…indeed upon rereading it had the feel of a song the young Dylan might have penned had he been born a few decades earlier!
      I merely try with the things I write to capture an individual/individuals within an event and/or a time frame and see where my pen takes me…more often than not it ends up a load of old toot! As to the merits of WW1 you are plainly well versed as to the events leading up to it and that tactical disasters during its duration…more so that I am. Having been to many a cemetery in Northern France and Belgium it is the wasted lives born of the stupidity of those in control (not the merits or otherwise of the war they fought in) that brings a lump to the throat of this old fool – that was what was in mind with this one. My songwriting son penned a lyric ‘Just 19’ that captured this far better than I can!
      That I am an old non-confrontational atheist I guess shapes both my skits and my stabs at poetry of sorts…that and the humour/satire I attempt to bring about most pieces.
      My thanks to you for taking time out to consider and expand upon the subject matter.
      Have a fine day.

      1. Don’t let my didactic ridiculousness take anything away from your poetry. The output conjures an almost Eliot like impression. And, in my nonsensical nonsense I forgot that cleverest of all Greeks, Mr. Aristotle’s important dictum: The Poet is better than the Historian because the Poet tells how things ought to have been, while the Historian tell’s things as they were, e.g . Homer trumps Thucydides

        I myself am certainly not a religious man – though I differ from Atheist orthodoxy in that I admit I do not have the courage of a truly religious person in that I cannot take that leap of Faith over my understanding.

        Faith is, imo, an inward thing for each existing individual – subjectivity if you will, and has nothing to do with any outward acts for a cause – especially acts that try to justify the unethical in the name of some ludicrous and insane fanaticism. Fundamentalists in anything are subjects to be satirized. Faith is the opposite of Certainty – and every pounding pulpit needs a good kick in the arse followed immediately by a witty caricature whenever it forgets that concept while wiping the sweat from it’s brow in front of the congregation. But this silliness of mine is ill-suited for a comment on a poetry output that no doubt never sought such lunacy 😉

        Keep up your expressiveness – whether that be in the comic/humorous or the tragic – Fortune has favored you with talents for it.

      2. Cheers Sir. You raise the sad issue of the satirist. I have contemplated for some little time now that satire – a form I favour yet pull too many punches to claim its title as my own – being a reactive thing never has been used proactively in terms of altering the course of history. Michael Moore/Geoge W or Spitting Images/Margaret Thatcher. That is a great shame in that those holding fundamentalist views on any subject matter will never/rarely change said views…that is perhaps why I’ve settled for non confrontational atheism as the alternative is too much effort for scant reward.

    1. Too true – all those dead soldiers on the back of the Bush/Blair supposed weapons of mass destruction. Scroll on several decades and listen into what our great grandchildren make of that one!

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