The Little Ships by Paul Burns

The Little Ships


returned each day to the blackened beach

and pulled oil- and blood-soaked men

away to the island where the sound of the guns

faded, and the country so green it hurt the eyes


and still hundreds of thousands thronged

in chest deep lines, desperate men

looking for the ships’ faint smoke

on a slate horizon


blankets and tea, and rum

and matter of fact voices

led them to mansions and village halls

ignoring their skin and language


because they said, you are home

now, we are all in this

together, we all defend



looking to that greyness now

the same shelterless waves,

the edge of everything, thousands wait

and no ships come.