MEN AT ARMS
(reflecting Evelyn Waugh's novel of that title)
The thunderbox, where Apthorpe sat to judge
his fellows, pulling all he could of rank,
the box he pulled with Guy, for all the grudge
of charges, and for all it stank,
one morning, in a corner of a field
("obvious what had happened" gives the drift
another novelist would have revealed),
being spiked, blew up under Apthorpe. Biffed.
The thunderflash, the scaled-down training bomb,
and 80s Apthorpe, bored as a cadet –
don't ask me where a dare like this came from –
who mooted and who meant is to forget –
but thunder flashed in 80s Apthorpe's face,
and fixed his shadow till his end of days.
Waugh's novel and its sequels were lent to me by a kinswoman in the summer of 2012, and gave me much relief during the stresses of a project at work. I wrote the poem rather later, for the 2013 Cannon Poets competition, which favours sonnets. The poem is now posted on the PoemPigeon site. PoemPigeon runs a new poetry competition every month, always with a thematic or formal requirement, and the requirement for July 2014 is sonnet form.
Readers of this blog may know all about my penchant for themed or formal poetry competitions. I don't see myself going for PoemPigeon every month, as that would leave me with no time or creative juices for anything else. But my poetry card index has, by now, quite a few eligible sonnets in it, and I liked the idea of pulling a recent one out and sending it off.