Lime Green Dress

Funeral uniform spells out

in black and white (but mainly black)

one common sure belief:

we’re born, we die. That’s it.

The lad in the lime green dress

and bright pink socks is not

taking the piss. His tears insist

that this is how it has to be.

Stevie, back from Helmand,

had sat in the tower block flat,

shivering, swigging vodka,

telling Gaz about the IEDs.

Don’t like go on about it, right?

Gaz wants to move, chat up some girls

but Stevie’s on a roll.

He doesn’t plan to let it go.

He’d done Iraq, but this was worse.

Any minute, anyone could go.

KERPOW! Your sergeant’s lost his face.

His guts slip through your hands.

Gaz hadn’t seen him scared.

Stevie’s the livewire kid

you’d bet would put a smile on your face.

If I go back, I won’t come home alive.

Top up the glasses. Fight the fear,

the baddie in the video game,

by zapping it with laughs. He promises.

A dress, yeah? Either pink or green.

The volleyed rifle shots

crack off the stones. Gaz asks the grave

D’you like the colour of the dress?

Then he gets it. There’ll be no reply.

Paul Francis