Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Battle of Passchendaele/Ypres

We are doomed, this war will last years
Years of booms, bangs, and screaming things that go shhhhh!!!
We put on our gas masks though they look like our death masks
I watch a sniper fall from the fire step eyes blank, long gone from this world I watch as tanks move like big snails,
As the stretcher carriers bring an armless soldier
No longer having to fight in this war
Soon the officer will say for us to go over
I look at the walls of the trench, they seem like an endless cliff
I can barely see through the mask as I climb up
I will be helpless to those booms
All I can think about is how I am one in a long line leading to death
We have barely gained a metre of ground in these two months
Then I hear our Sopwith Camels coming in to provide us cover
The officer bellows “Over the Top!”
I climb up the ladder
Looking at the the husks at what used to be trees and tanks
Through the jungle of barbed wire, I crawl on
It seems every second will be my last
Hoping it’s over soon,
I can see the enemy trenches like canyons on the other side
I come up against the enemies barbed wire
We have forgotten to cut it, we are forced to march through it, stabbing us

Their machine guns easily picking us off
I make it to the enemy trench it seems like heaven to me
I am one of the few who made it across
I surrender, they treat my wounds
Finally free of this horror.