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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 3, September 2012

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Ken Jones
Aberystwyth, Wales, UK


Honour and Glory

Hee-haw ! hee-haw!
saluting the imperial standard
a brazen ass

The Journal of a Siege: 1st May 17—

Written in a dank, iron casemate. Only on a peaceful summer do these forts, so artfully conceived by Monsieur de Vauban, look their most elegant. All was prepared before the investment, now in its second month, had begun.

Ravelins and counterscarps
clad all in sweet green grass
mown ready for the dead

They have yet to bring up their siege guns; their cannon balls disturb us little.

Dawn chorus
abruptly halted
by a cannonade

The commandant assures me that as soon as matters become seriously heroic he will feel free to negotiate an honourable surrender. And so I pen a letter to my wife regarding the spring sowing on my estate. And another to my mistress offering a little badinage in well-turned couplets. The latter end in a scrawl as the earth shakes beneath me. A mine! A mine! The insistent bugle. The clatter of ammunition boots. Buckling on my sword I hasten to my post.

Here they come, plodding up the glacis. A turkey shoot, just as Monsieur de Vauban had planned.

Across the future dead
he lays his rule
his fields of fire

After the dense black smoke has cleared we see the execution our flintlocks has wrought amongst them. The living are struggling back up the counterscarp. They leave behind the grotesque dead and the screaming wounded. Poor fellows! We either work them to death at home like horses or else we enlist them to be shot at the behest of other well-mannered gentlemen.

Clockwork soldiers
lost in their own smoke
they blaze at one another

I am ordered to arrange a parlay for the recovery of the wounded, the burial of the dead and the exchange of prisoners. With shivers down my spine, I step out with a little drummer boy and a tall serjeant bearing a white flag. Their officers are grand fellows and invite me to their mess. An excellent claret. Toasts to their king and our empress.

Eau-de-Cologne and powdered wigs
exchanging snuff
and prisoners

Protected by the Articles of War I am duly returned to our lines. A calm, clear night. Beyond the encirclement a farm dog is howling.

Beneath a low slung moon
besiegers and besieged
dream each others’ dreams

Note: This fragment was found on the body of an unknown officer after the storming of Fort S— ended a prolonged and destructive siege.


Editor's Note: “Broken Shotgun” and “Honour and Glory” are from Ken Jone’s forthcoming collection, Bog Cotton, to be published in November by Alba Publishing, Uxbridge. Enquiries to Alba Publishing.

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