The Poppy

When I see a poppy
I see the symbol
of something that
it’s easy to forget;
not a logo, a stripe
or a statement of rank.
It’s neither corporate image
nor party colour,
nor crucifix.
It is not even…

…a badge of honour.

It’s only a symbol,
designed to jolt
our memories.
It’s not to be taken
as hostage
by those with ‘affiliations’!
Nor to be hijacked
for personal ends.

It is for humanity
for non-affiliated
family and community;
national and international
universal praise and pride…

…in humanity.

You’ve only to imagine
you’re facing an adversary,
in whose hands
your life may be held;
imagine that all you think,
in any one moment
of extreme danger,
is your preparedness
to sacrifice your life
for your friends,
who stand beside you,
your comrades in arms;
for your family
and community
and to demonstrate…

…ultimate loyalty

It is neither for self-interest
nor to promote your image;

neither someone’s politics nor your religion.

It is for real heroes,
whose blood we see
as a bright red carpet
of papaveraceae.

…and each flower
is a life.

(Read the author’s commentary on this poem)

© 2011 John Anstie

About PoetJanstie

“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
This entry was posted in courage, family, Free Verse, Heroes, Hope, poem, poetry, political, Preachy, Religious, sadness, War. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Poppy

  1. marousia says:

    Lovely 🙂 This is very moving – love the ending


  2. phoenixrisesagain says:

    hope the muses will come back to you as this is a good poem no matter how anyone thinks about war. And besides: those who either have to or chose to risk their life’s for all our safety should get some praise. It is not their fault that politicians and bankers prefer to make money out of war and death. Most of them would prefer to do something more peaceful I assume!


  3. Really cool poem man, very intune with public feeling over the whole poppy burning thing. check out my poems, hopefully you could help me along a bit. I’m just starting! 🙂


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