They stood around the monument, three arches tall,
Against the dark gray sky,
This first day of July.
One hundred years of mourning
They came to recall and pray for what we never know.

A bugle blared as if to call the troops to life
Yet on that day we cant forget
it ordered them to death.
Over the top untrained boys of sixteen years and more
Forced to charge the blazing guns and fell like winter leaves.
One hundred years and no one really grieves.

Senseless killing twenty thousand died that single day alone.
Generals so deranged they readied cavalry
with their flags and spears to charge the German guns
more slaughter of the fathers, brothers and their only sons.
In four months more one million and a half were dead
They thought nothing of it all, built a symbol of their crimes,
three arches tall painted cream and red.

The teenagers and the men trembled in the trenches
numb with fear as dead came falling down.
The officers so proud with pistols drawn cried out
“Climb the ladder, go and fight for England and its right
to rule the empire, command the world you are a traitor in my sight”

The boy was paralyzed with overwhelming fear, the battle raging wild
It was just one more shot and then he died still a frightened child.

It was a somber day with royalty, generals, politicians and their like
They bowed their heads as if in silent prayer but more in shame
For making war for Empire and the Queen,
for profits and for power and the honor of the killing fields.

Twenty thousand sent to early death never knew the why
and never thought to ask they just fell and died beneath an empty sky.

Shay Cullen
July 2016

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