Firing Range

Implausibly placed
Between commuter stations,
Golf courses, woodland,
In the very heartland of the saturnine,
Sprawls the Army Firing Range:
A straggle of Keep Out placards
In unapologetic red.

Barracks and offices, a gym,
A parade ground
Lead to the fields
Where old trucks and armoured cars
In conspicuous camouflage
Rust in the mud

Which is the mud of Agincourt,
Naseby, Verdun :
Spaces where Mars and History
Received a libation
And strewed the husks of honour
In the mouth of Avernus.

Seen from the train
Softened by April morning mist,
Connecting the amusement arcades of Southport
To the copses of Formby,
It is an apophthegm to take to work,
A reverie of Europa's rape and triumph.

You could imagine
Treading the plash of sacrifice,
The boot forever sinking
Into the face of Earth.

In your mind's eye
You could see a nation rising
On stilts of murder to the sun.


This poem won first prize in the 1998 Liverpool Waterstone's poetry competition, and is reprinted by permission.

If you've any comments to make on his poem, K.M.Payne would be pleased to hear from you.