Jack Muldoon and I

by John Carew

We were proud to go and fight for King and country
Jack Muldoon and I
They marched us up the hill and marched us down again
They marched us in the sun and they marched us in the rain
They gave us a uniform, boots, a gun, and made us fighting men
Smiling young boys without the worries of the world etched upon our faces
Jack Muldoon and I.

They trooped us through the streets
Through the flag-waving, cheering crowd
Jack Muldoon and I
I saw Jack’s blue eyes and blonde hair shine in the sun
As he kissed his sweetheart goodbye
They sailed us off to France in their mighty battleships
In the sun of a late September’s evening they sent us to the front
Jack Muldoon and I
Where we could not understand why the young men in the trenches
Had the worries of the world etched upon their faces.

In the morning the cannons thundered
And we were ordered over the top to fight
We soon learnt of the dreadfulness of war
We realised that death on the battlefield
Was different to the death we had known at home
Where old men die in their beds, their faces powder up
Their bodies neatly boxed and sent on their way to heaven
We killed our first young German boy together
Jack Muldoon and I
We left him with a hole in his face
Where his blue eyes ought to have been
We tallied our dead, they replaced them with more young men
That could not understand
Why we, had the worries of the world etched upon our faces
Jack Muldoon and I.

September sun soon gave way to October rain
The mud of the battlefield stained red
With the blood of our comrades and our enemies
We soon discovered
That the beauty of the human body was just a camouflage
Just a vessel to house blood and guts, not a tabernacle for the soul
Even the brain
The most powerful tool in the world was just a ball of squelchy sinus
So we fought and stayed alive as best we could
Jack Muldoon and I.

The rain of October was easy to the cold of November
Our boots froze hard from frost
Our bones ached from the bitter wind
And yet we fought and killed young German boys
The worries of the world not yet etched upon their youthful faces
And we survived those dreadful days
Jack Muldoon and I.

Christmas Eve, brought an artic chill to the trenches we called home
In the morning our battlefields cleansed by a blanket of white snow
Christ the saviour was born
Had he come to deliver us from our living hell
Could we go home to our mother’s, from the anguish of this abyss?
Jack Muldoon and I
But the cannons roared
And we turned the crystal white snow blood red
In the evening, as dusk began to fall, our day’s killing almost done
A bullet found Jack’s brow, a trickle of blood tarnished his blue eyes
And I knew that a tiny bullet hole in his forehead
Would leave a gaping void where Jack’s blonde hair ought to have been
So I cradled him to my breast, and prayed
“Please God, let a stray bullet pierce my heart.”
For I knew that we would never soldier again together
Jack Muldoon and I.

The minutes turned to hours, hours to days, days to weeks
Weeks to months, and still I killed young German boys
My childhood fantasies of being a mighty warrior
A knight in shining armour, just an illusion now
For all I had become was a killing machine
So I fought and killed young German boys until they said,
“That’s enough killing for now, it’s time to have peace”
They sailed us home in their mighty battleships
Hung medals on our chests, and marched us through the streets
The people stood and stared, no cheering, no flag waving
Just a deafening silence as they watched old men traipse by
Some crippled, some disfigured, some mad
All with the worries of the world etched upon their faces
Those of us that could walk, they gave us a coat and boots
And sent us on our way
Our fighting days over, no longer any use to our King and country
Jack Muldoon and I.

Jack’s sweetheart was not there
She had married a banker’s son
He had a college education; he did not have to fight
He became a politician; mighty speeches he would make
Of how we should fight to defend the glory of our nation
He sent a another generation of young men
To fight and kill young German boys
The worries of the world not yet etched upon their youthful faces
His sons, they did not have to fight, for they too had a college education
It was young men like Jack Muldoon and I that went to do their bidding.

© 2021 John Carew  All rights reserved.

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