Paper Cranes

Poetry for Peace Contest

The Poetry for Peace contest was held from 15 September until 14 October 2011. The winners were anounced at a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York.

Below is one of the contest entries.

Night on Patrol

    The velvet lowering of night,
    The stars hang golden, furry bright
    Against a backdrop blue, then black
    As God takes daylight's blessings back

    And so the tracker's day must end
    As light now fails, and troopies bend
    To peer for tripwires in the gloom,
    For broken grasses, signs of doom
    To find a place that's safe to rest
    But not to sleep; no need to test
    God's infinite patience with our cause
    No sense to challenge nature's laws
    So rocky cleft must guard the back
    With face turned out towards the track
    Deep shadowed from all passers by
    While starlight limns them 'gainst the sky

    This blissful night, he'll try to doze
    Fretfully, sentries on their toes
    Harking for variance in sound
    Whilst Africa cacophonies 'round
    Its hunters, now awake and sharp;
    The leopard's cough, the jackal's bark
    Hyenas, giggling obscene
    The nightjar's screech
    The victim's scream

    Christ! Is that animal or man?
    No, just a tree out on the pan
    As jumbo takes his evening feed
    And transforms branch to ragged reed

    Even at war, this mighty land
    Can soothe the soul, caress the hand
    In tiny fragments comes the peace
    That gives the soldier second lease
    On all the nights he once loved well
    Before this spiral into Hell
    When campfire's warmth, and whisky's glow
    Brought mellow mood. As sun sank low
    Against a sky so vast, so pure
    That man could scarcely e'en endure
    The beauty of Rhodesia's eve
    He sat there, watching firelight weave
    Soft dancing shadows, magic sky,
    Blue velvet curtain, draped from high
    Soon smothering raging reds and golds
    As night, then thought so safe, unfolds

    But now, he holds his rifle tight
    With one eye open, poised to fight,
    His muscles ache, his soul's so sore
    To see such glory scarred by war

    Yet memories of those quiet nights past
    Still fuel his dreams of peace at last.

— Richard Fenner


All Poems Submitted to the Contest


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