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Prose ‘n’ Poetry (1) The Birthday Party: Somme
by Dill Carver

Jason Minty and I discussed possible ideas for starting a new plot: We wanted a plot that could involve a wide range of members, both Poets and Story writers.

The objective is to have some fun. The idea was to present the short story writers with an assignment or challenge – that would hopefully supply the poet with some ready-made inspiration

The ‘Prose ‘n’ Poetry’ plot has two distinct phases

Firstly a Story writer is invited to create a short cameo piece of fiction or a complete ‘flash fiction’ story in no more than 400 words (Please!) – The emphasis of the storyline is extreme human drama or emotional dilemma.

 Poets are then invited write a piece from within that melodrama – using the short story above as motivation or inspiration for a (free format) poem – reflecting any aspect or sentiment of the situation portrayed within the drama or from the perspective of any of the characters involved.

To get this to run properly we need each new short to head up a new plot (under same general heading) but any number of poems can be posted beneath each story.

 We have started with four simultaneous Prose ‘n’ Poetry plots – hopefully four writers will chip in with a ‘header’ story. If more than four writers want to contribute we can create more headers once number four header has a story posted. – Give it a go! – Cheers, Clive & Jason.

Title: The Birthday Party
Author: Clive Aldridge

The Somme July 1st 1916

George threw his head back, shut his eyes and took a mouthful. He swilled the rusty water around for a second, tasted the petroleum taint and blew it out in a cloud of spray. "PISS! ...Bloody piss water!" He shouted to no one, the sour water adding bitterness to the anguish that was already making his head swim. Without looking he held the canteen out to his left; somebody took it.

He opened his eyes and stared into the earthen wall that he faced. Raising his arm, he focused upon his filthy trembling hand before drawing it across his cracked lips. The relentless barrage pounded his nerves. The shells had been screaming overhead since the very first light of dawn and he grimaced against the sound, becoming desperate to escape the torment.

He tried to steer his thoughts towards home; it seemed a lifetime away.

The big guns stuttered and then ceased. The vacuum of sound left a void and the eerie silence wrenched at different nerves. It signified what was coming and his stomach heaved as mortal fear hollowed and twisted giddy knots into it.


The order slashed through the silence, coming from near... and far; shouted repeatedly, along the trench-line. An ingrained drill-parade reflex took over as along with hundreds of others, he drew the long blade from its scabbard. His left hand held the rifle, his other shook violently whilst he fumbled to fit the pig-sticker onto the muzzle.

George tipped the rim of his steel-helmet back and looked into the gaunt faces of the lads around him. Once splendid, these filthy young men were ravaged beyond recognition by the muddy hell. There remained nothing of the pin sharp parade-ground platoon; the most uniform aspect of these soldiers was red rimmed eyes, wide and fearful, all in sight their own death. For it was here, waiting for them. A few seconds... that's all that stood between them and it.

A lazy pop from a flare pistol sends a green blob of phosphorus skywards whilst shrill whistles sound all along the front. Shouting starts.

"At ‘em lads!" "GO ON LADS... GO ON!"

George felt numb and detached, he made no effort to move yet his passive body was carried towards the fire-step by the khaki swell.

"Twenty one today, twenty one today... Oh, I've got the key ‘O the door; never been Twenty one before..."

Choking back the rising bile he’d begun to sing in order to keep from sobbing. As the huddle of soldiers edged towards the ladders, he reached out and taking a rung in his free hand, began to climb.

"Oh, I've got the key ‘O the door..."

He heard the jerry machine guns open up, the metallic staccato stitching death into row after row of...


Title: Fighting on the Somme
Author: Lloyd Williams

We were promised swift victory
We’d be home with Christmas gone
But here we are now two years past
Still fighting on theSomme

Ankle deep in mud and filth
Damp feet another woe
As we keep our heads below the parapet
To keep them from our foe

We lie in wait for shells to halt
We wait for whistles blow
And then we’ll climb into the field
Where once the grass did grow

There now lay our fallen friends
Their souls set free and gone
From another day of bloodshed
And fighting on theSomme

Title: Another Day
Author: Lloyd Williams

The first phase of the plan is done
We’ve rained down shells upon the Hun
It’s time to send the boys out
To face the unmanned guns

Thousands wait for the call to come
We’ve no idea why they’re glum
They have the chance for glory
And next to them their chums

They’re not to run but take their time
We’ve sorted out our enemy’s lines
They only have to conquer
So easy it’s a crime.

But things didn’t turn out as transpired
Half way across the crack of fire
And now our boys are falling
Whilst caught up in the wire

With thousands hurt and thousands dead
It seems we didn’t think ahead
So we’ll go back to square one
It’s time to use our head

We’ll have a think and have some wine
Make further plans as we all dine
A safe way from the river Somme
Where our boys rest in grime

We’ve lost a few now battle’s done
They’re not our brothers or our sons
And blessed is conscription
Guaranteeing more will come

We’ll plan again we can but try
We have no doubts that more will die
We're safely out of earshot
Where we can't hear the cries

And so we lead from far away
Keeping out of all harms way
Sending our boys to fight on
Tomorrow’s another day.

Title: Peaceful Lands
Author: Lloyd Williams

I didn’t see the end like this

Didn’t think it could be so

But now I sink in to the mud

Back home I shall not go

My pals we signed up one by one

And one by one we fell

And now I think it’s my turn

To fall down in this hell

And as I sink I steal a glance

At white wisp cloud filled sky

And hear the last birds singing

As to peaceful lands they fly.

Title: Ninety Years on the Somme
Author: Lloyd Williams

Ninety years have sailed on past
But the horrors still I see
The massacred boys of the riverSomme
Who went to war with me

I came home and they stayed there
The ones who wound up dead
The massacred boys of the riverSomme
Still plague my weary head

A hundred years of life I’ve seen
All thanks to what they gave
The massacred boys of the riverSomme
Rest peacefully in their graves

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