Edgell Rickword, "Trench Poets"

Trench Poets

I knew a man, he was my chum,
but he grew blacker every day,
and would not brush the flies away,
nor blanch however fierce the hum
of passing shells; I used to read,
to rouse him, random things from Donne–

Like “Get with child a mandrake-root.”
But you can tell he was far gone,
For he lay gaping, mackerel-eyed,
and stiff, and senseless as a post
Even when that old poet cried
“I long to talk with some old lover’s ghost.”

I tried the Elegies one day,
but he, because he heard me say:
“What needst thou have more covering than a man?”
Grinned nastily, and so I knew
The worms had got his brains at last.
There was one thing that I might do
to starve the worms; I racked my head
for healthy things and quoted Maud.
His grin got worse and I could see
He sneered at passion’s purity.
He stank so badly, though we were great chums
I had to leave him; then rats ate his thumbs.

–Edgell Rickword

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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