For Paul Spicer, and the Birmingham Bach Choir

For Paul Spicer, and the Birmingham Bach Choir, in thanksgiving for our own commemoration in 2014.

*ZONE ROUGE*
(for the centenary of the Armistice, 2018)

Places I won’t visit again, or you.
Places of the rainfall, still,
of men reacting to stumbling,
falling horses, of the slow choke
of all I couldn’t say to friends
lying far behind us, miles away.
Moving on, resting in the stub
of a church, my bleeding back
against the bellow of a fallen bell.
Not a word, nor the village
nor the church rebuilt, nor
the doctor’s car retrieved
from the wide-mouth main street,
but, rather, a forest among the poison
of the immoveable shells,
and birds stripped of names.