The Black Box

The Black Box.


It’s been the first night

I’ve slept right through

In a month or more

I woke thinking

Of you and that black box

You used to keep

under your bed

and those messages

from the past it contained.

A few words written

On brown parcel paper

With the correct postage

Sent from Germany

In nineteen forty five

You wrote to your love

Breaking out tonight

Heading for American lines

But you ended up

With the Russians instead

And we laughed at that

So typical of our dad.

But there was that faded

Old telegram too

So fragile now

From where you’d

Handled it so often

Telling you your brother

Had died that morning.

He’d fought in the war

Just like you

And came home

To the  austerity

Of a land on its knees

Not free from desease

And the virulency of TB

That defied the hope

Of that miracle

Drug penicillin.

People have forgotten

The fear contagion

Of disease could bring

My poor uncle

Visited his old home

And his family

In Ireland for that last time

Not knowing

That he carried

A death sentence

And passed the disease

to his younger brother

And to his own daughter

Then when it came

To having tests in school

Before inoculation

It was found that

I was immune

And I must have been

exposed to it too.

But luck showed its hand

And stood on my

Right shoulder.

As children we’d run

around the street

singing that old jingle

Who won the war

in nineteen forty four.

And my father

Would say quietly

You shouldn’t believe

In such lies

And that constant

Bragging of the greatness

Of the British Empire.

We fought in a war

But paid for it dearly

War is never something

To be bragged over.


Rob Cullen 18/05 2016.