Poetry Break: “Let Me Tell You How I Died” – Gas!
It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in with this incredibly long poem, hasn’t it? I figured it was time to post another segment.
In the First World War, poison gas saw its first large scale use on the Ypres Salient in 1915. It was a very potent chlorine gas, and it caused hundreds of casualties and almost 70 deaths. As the war advanced, so did the cruelty of this particularly barbaric weapon. Phosgene and Mustard gases were introduced, both of which rotted the lungs and caused blisters and burns on the skin. Some variants of these gasses were invisible and hard to detect by smell, which meant soldiers wouldn’t know they were exposed until they were already symptomatic. I’ve read many accounts of gas attacks on the Western Front, and it’s hard reading to get through. Poison Gas became one of the most infamous aspects of the first world war, and one of the most feared weapons. Although it’s difficult to read about much less write about, I felt I had to include it in this poem. Here for you is the third segment of Part II of the “Let Me Tell You How I Died” war poem series.
LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DIED
PART II – SEGMENT 3
Here we are rushing the works again
And I charge the field with the rest of my men
Up to my knees in mud and slime
Surrounded by bones, debris, and grime
A shell lands near me as I make my way through
But it doesn’t explode, or cause much ado
Then there’s a hiss and the air turns yellow
The field grows foggy, I let out a bellow
I can’t get any sound to leave my throat
My lungs burn, eyes water, skin bubbles and bloats
It’s poison gas that they’ve thrown at me
It’s Mustard, it’s lethal, and I’m too weak to flee
Caught out in the field without my gas mask
There’s no worse death, for mercy I ask
But it won’t come, so I splash into the mud
My skin burns hot and I cough up blood
My vision goes black and my hearing fades
My insides feel torn apart by knife blades
Soon I don’t feel anything, my life was so brief
But when death finally comes, it’s a relief
To Be Continued…
To read Segment 1 of Part II, “Shelling” – click here.
To read Segment 2 of Part II, “Over the Top!” – click here.