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Jackie Bartlett

After Passchendaele
he kept a bent penny in his pocket.
Picked up from the mud
it was bright

where the bullet had winged it
the king's face scarred
to an idiot's leer.

He never said much; talked only
of how time, behind the lines
dragged itself along like a hobbled mule
or stopped suddenly
just as a bell pealed from a tower somewhere

or, in the real world
somebody got born, somebody laughed,
caught a tram, lit a fag.