Colours of War

by Paul A. Freeman
The Write Idea
Third Place, December 2016
Judged by Richard Krawiec

What colour was the war to end all wars?
We’ve watched as men, in grainy black and white,
go o’er the top to face the chomping jaws
of curtain fire and shrapnel’s iron bite.
And when the muted thud of gas shells came,
the battleground transformed into a field
of jaundiced mustard, searing like a flame
those lungs that breathed it in and never healed.
Survivors and the dead alike lived on
in washed out shades of sepia which left
a photographic record once they’d gone
to join Death’s roll, or soldier on bereft.
But most of all the war to end all wars
is poppy-red, a hue to give us pause.

I feel this poet accomplishes what he/she set out to do. Write a compressed anti-war poem without being overly didactic, although the message is clear from the start. This poem may, stylistically, harken to an earlier era, but what is most admirable about it is the control of the rhythm, line, and enjambed rhyme. The tightness of technique makes it clear this has been worked on, but done so well you don’t notice it. --Richard Krawiec