Remembrance: a poem by a red & white poppy wearer

If I don a red poppy it is not for one state,
It is not to declare some glory in war –
It’s so often started by greed, fear or hate –
But I recall those perished on many a shore
Due to directives of others, not due to fate,
So many have died, I do not call for more –
Most conflicts can & should be prevented –
I honour remembrance, bloodlust I deplore,
Defence not aggression, the lost lamented,
The people and animals caught up in it all,
Pains and death mourned, not misrepresented
As a recruitment drive for new generations,
Defence must be reinvented, integrated
To lead to less carnage or armed interventions,
Peace-making happens if diplomacy occurs,
In my own memories, dreams and reflections
Dialogue before and in place of war is preferred,

Red poppies, red blood, transcend borders,
Seeds don’t recognise nations or creeds,
They don’t understand military orders
Or prioritise individuals or human needs,
Curbing climate chaos and the massive arms trade
Can avert certain causes of conflict and oppression,
Can deprive dictators of tools required to invade;
Bleaching out forces behind worst aggression,
A culture of coexistence would need no crusade,
Remembering, I recall too powers of conversation –
All times when no wreaths need have been laid,
Though I join in both liberty and loss in commemoration
I will not allow talk of war to let hope of peace fade,
For if we ignore the patterns behind confrontation,
The worth of uniformed and civilian lives we degrade,

I wear a white poppy too, past crucifix red, white, blue,
Past tragic wars to end all wars, when all were called
To take up arms on a scale no human before knew,
Numberless, nameless dead left, so many still now fall,
So we must tell the stories of war in ways that are true,
Reasons real and imagined for each military incursion,
Genocides have met delayed ends and postponement
But so many wars begin with rulers’ selfish perversion
With little effort in peace-building or co-atonement,
Our administration aiding mass arms proliferation
And arms migration while stimulating malcontent,
Which motivates radicalism, division, desperation –
Fuelling those factions who won’t talk or relent –
We must not be blind to collective causation
In wars recorded as those we could not prevent,
Be wary of smoke-screens and obscure orchestration –
These dishonour the injured and the departed –
Beyond any elusive, exhausted sense of victory,
Is justice & parity found without wars being started,
Diplomacy is under-celebrated in written history,
Much peace-building dishonoured and uncharted
Yet how many live tortured by conflicts’ legacy?
And now we have nuclear and chemical weaponry
That can murder generations, existence into dust,
We have wars fuelled by unjust economic disparity,
Fossil fuel dependency, resource scarcity, mistrust,
Intolerance within, between and of faiths & ethos,
Inclusion and diversity are skills to be mustered
If we are to do more than calculate war’s cost
And grieve for the incalculable lost. So, yes, defend,
Yet redefine, for our time, our defence default setting,
Aim to destroy more enemies by making them a friend,
We do this, in part, by neither glorifying nor forgetting.

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch