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Two popular and long-established collections of  war poetry of the
First World War

Minds at War
A comprehensive
anthology of poetry of the First World War. All the greatest war poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and war poems of over 70 other notable poets. All set in the context of the poets' lives and historical records. With historic photographs and cartoons.  Edited by David Roberts.
 400 pages £15-99 (UK)



Out in the Dark
Anthology of
First World War poetry recommended for students and the general reader.
19 poems by
Wilfred Owen
, 27 by Siegfried Sassoon and over 90 more war poems by 45 significant poets including women writers. Contextual information and basic notes on many poems. Illustrated.  Edited by David Roberts.
185 pages - £10-99 (UK)



Falklands War Poetry cover

The War Poetry Website - Thoughts and poems by Graham Cordwell

"I was first diagnosed with chronic PTSD in 2002, some 20 years after the Falklands War, and began writing poems for the first time in February 2007. . . " Poems and commentary below . . .



The new Falklands War Poetry anthology

with poems from Britain, Argentina and the Falklands, was published in April 2012. Information about this, the contributors and the book may be found at

Falklands War Poetry anthology.



Falklands War Poetry anthology cover

 


Thoughts and poems by Graham Cordwell
 

 
The Falklands War 1982

Graham Cordwell's poems
(These follow Graham's introduction.)

Back to other poems of the Falklands War


Self Medicating
Life on Hold - An Ode to PTSD
25 Years On
Antipodean Sunset
Disabled
Comfortably Numb
The Abandoned Soldier

More of Graham's poems appear in the new anthology.

 

Graham Cordwell's introduction

I have visited your website often and it has given me great inspiration.  I was first diagnosed with chronic PTSD in 2002, some 20 years after the Falklands War, and began writing poems for the first time in February 2007.  I am still reading through the many wonderful poems which continue to inspire me and I am still writing.

I have taken a great deal of time and given much thought to submitting examples of my work and am now taking the first steps into the unknown. 

Full name:  Graham John Cordwell
Alias or nickname: GraCor

Biography: 
I was born 30th April 1956 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. The middle child of five, at the age of 16yrs and 4mths I joined the British Army as a boy soldier.  At 18yrs I completed adult recruit and parachute training and was posted to 2nd Battalion of The Parachute Regiment (2 Para) with whom I served for nearly 15 years before resigning in March 1988. 

During this time I served 4 tours of duty in Northern Ireland, totalling almost 3 years, and saw active service in the Falklands War in 1982.  I married in 1978 and have two children.  Unfortunately the marriage didn´t survive the Falklands War and we divorced in 1986. I served as a police officer for 3 years in Surrey Constabulary, England before resigning and moving to Norway with my new wife in 1991. 

In 1994 at the age of 38yrs at went to college to become a social worker and thereafter worked with people with drug and alcohol problems.  In 2002, after a mental breakdown, I was diagnosed with chronic PTSD.  I have spent the past 5 years in treatment and rehabilitation.  I am eternally grateful to my wife who manages to keeps me sane and I hope to be well again one day.

Graham John Cordwell (GraCor)

 

Self-medication

You embrace my soul and warm a longing heart

Fill my lonely existence with comfort on empty days

You take away my inhibitions and release the laughter behind the mask

Give meaning to my pain, my feelings find a voice

 

The friend in time of need, your hospitality is infamous

I cannot live without your vile caress; it gives succour to my weakness

We are a symbiosis of MADness, a mutually assured destruction

Whilst I climb the walls and plumb the depths

 

The grim reaper knows me well and has visited many times

Despair maintains a constant vigil

I have sacrificed my life upon your alter and loathe you with a vengeance

But seek you out at every turn

 

I dare not face the day without you, even though your fire consumes me

Your demons haunt my every waking hour

I wrestle with my consciousness, a struggle I cannot win

But I will not slip this life, not yet

 

At last to sleep, a silent desolate refuge, a monotonous empty void

Where all thought is banished

A sublime release from all responsibility, I become as nothing

Unseen and forgotten

 

No angst or imposition, no pressure to perform

No feeling, nor pain

I succumb to the substance of choice, self-medicated

At least for a while

GraCor © Copyright 2007

To top of page

Life on hold – An ode to PTSD

I do not own the causes of my pain

But they demand ownership of my mind

Grief and trauma are not contagious

But no-one wants to be touched by them

The unseen wound that never heals

The mental scars hidden from prying eyes

You pass me by with surprising regularity

 

Seeing what others do not

Hearing the sounds, smelling the odours

Vicious and invasive to this day

Dreaming uncomfortable visions

I cry out, remembering effortlessly and without desire

Slow-motion replays in an eternal loop

The sweat, the anguish, the shame

 

I should work as others to earn a daily crust

But am I valued even though I cannot provide

I once had status and responsibility, long gone

Once independent, reliable, energetic

The demons have captured me, body and soul

I stare at the flickering screen, it holds my gaze

I am overwhelmed by indecision

 

My mind aches for relief

Release from this mental struggle

I am tired, oh so tired of being tired

I want to sleep again without intrusion

Not to fear the laying of my head upon the pillow

Not to struggle with long nights of lonely vigil

I want to feel awake, alive, refreshed, anew

 

Once at the centre, now the fringe

The boundary pushing ever outward

Friends and colleagues getting fewer

The loneliness of a crowded room

Days without purpose, yet no time for thought

I see no future, but obscure the past

A haunting melody with sad refrain

I feel, therefore I must endure the moment

Attacked relentlessly by predatory thoughts

Mental knives that slash into my brain

Feelings uncontrollably surging, my heart awash with sadness

Gushing tears of bloody anguish, staunched only by chemicals

Then emptiness, a flat-lining void bereft of sensation

Empathy with the dying soul

 

Still here, life on hold

No rewind possible for this poor soldier

My imposed employment, to exist

Ask the existential questions, endure without respite

Fleeting moments of happiness in a sea of pain

I am a soldier still on duty, staggering on

Don’t pity me, just don’t look away!

GraCor © Copyright 2007

To top of page

25 Years On

Can´t sleep, afraid to dream

Can´t wake, too tired for lack of sleep

Can´t love for fear of losing

Losing you because I can no longer love

 

Days turned upside down

No focus, no structure

Time disappears without recollection

I plan so much, but achieve so little

 

Ironclad exterior, jelly at the core

The mask is all that binds me

I struggle to mouth the truth

Do you really want to hear my story?

 

Crying in my dreams, transported back to `82

The gorse and peat are still burning

Lanolin, smoke and cordite

The smells offend my nostrils

 

Every year I´m carried back, an eternal bond

Goose Green, a brief but violent visit

Yet vivid in my thoughts

Do they think of me, as I of them?

 

I lost it once in `85, it only cost my marriage

A minimal price some would say, a glitch

An aberration, that’s life, it happens!

Replaced the lid and carried on

 

I have a life, but not worth living

Invasive thoughts of death

A simple task to end it all

A struggle to maintain control

 

Feelings of dysfunction

Arms and legs, diminished feeling

Pain radiating throughout a ravaged body

Saddened eyes holding back tears

 

I could cry, but would anyone hear me

I will not show my weakness

A sense of pride holds me tight

Duty refuses to give up

 

The second time was `95

I thought the end was due

But no, I found the lid once more

Renewed the armour against the world

 

Then, alcohol induced psychosis

A comfortable friend

Long nights without reality

An empty, numb existence

 

In `02 life became a blur

A mystic fusion of realities

Raging heartbeat in my ears

Control, a seldom luxury

 

Struggle to maintain reality

A desire to own my fears

Fear of owning anything at all

Life without an existential meaning

 

If I cried, you’d see me bared

Undressed and naked as a child

I want to share my feelings

But would you survive the deluge?

 

I am tired, middle aged and marking time

A half lived post war dream

Years fit snugly into thoughts

A lifetime translated into moments

 

Now the final bureaucratic humiliation

An intimate inquisition, irrefutable proof of life
Ill and tired of repetition, I want to rest

To be finished, 25 years on


GraCor © Copyright 2007

To top of page To top of page

Antipodean Sunset

Blood red sky, violent
Silence that grips the senses
Wind that cuts to the bone, but dries the flesh
Sudden stillness of the sunset that calms our fears

The soundtrack of our lives haunting, sometimes vivid
Clinging to a thought of a lover far away
Summer turned to winter
Antipodean stars that guide our way

Fleeting images of life and death amongst the flames
The wrenching shrills of tormented souls
A fools overture lingers in my mind. Did his country call?
Maybe it´s in my mind, not real, not false

Happy smiling faces, heavy hearts and limbs
We came so far and left so many
The elation of the moment engulfs us, intoxicating, numbing
A thought of home is shunned with painful realisation

Voices reach across the ether, time and space connect
A conspiracy of human destruction, fate is close to deal another winning hand
My mind turns to birth in the midst of death
I want to go home, but duty spurs me on

I cry inside, but no-one hears, only the guardians of my sanity
Fragile like the skin on water, one touch and my secrets overflow
Staccato glances reassure me, I´m back inside
Safe for now. Did anyone see?

GraCor © Copyright 2007

 

Disabled

I have been labelled
What am I worth?
In a society that doesn’t care
Cost-effective, best practiced, clinically excellent

My "best before" date is long since passed
Arthritic joints compete with wasted muscles
Body couch-bound and clamped in situ
A life without purpose

My parameters redefined by others
Medicated, sanitised, forgotten
Held in limbo, geared down, restrained
My body a straight-jacket for my existence

Neuropathways blocked or disconnected
Chemicals surging in my blood
A juggernaut raging in my head
The outside world thundering in my ears

Drive-in, drive-thru, driven society
Without rear-view perspective
Revved up and steaming forward
No place for those who can’t keep up

I am disabled by my mind
Society is disabled by my presence
I am left to ponder life
Kodak memories, filled with Prozac moments

GraCor © Copyright 2007

 

Comfortably Numb

Running the corridor that never ends
Searching relentlessly the wall of doors
Revisited by smells and visions
Vivid as the reality that shattered into my consciousness

Dulled by alcohol and indifference
Warmed by the hearth of a strange fire
Do you know this place?

Anesthetised, we sleep standing in our shoes
Sometimes woken by a nervous reflex
Another drink?
Sorry, time gentlemen please!


GraCor © Copyright 2007

To top of page

The Abandoned Soldier

The eyes betray the pain

Hollow, empty eyes

A lifetime in one glance

Blinking moist with sadness

In search of understanding

Barely holding back the tear

 

Alone, standing to attention

A solemn sight for all to view

A stubborn look about the face

Lips taught with embers of defiance

A wry ironic smile

A stoic sense of duty

 

The glorious dead do not grow old

The living are but vague reminders

Of a soldier's gift and a nations debt

A collective shame unwashed in generations

Putrid and bitter without a voice

Crying out for respect and restitution

 

Body racked with untold hurt

Phantom pain from near useless limbs

Age has wearied him

And the years condemned

The shadow of a once proud man

Who took the shilling and paid the price

 

Young men, old beyond their years

Damaged minds in ravaged bodies

Witness to the horrors

Victim of the daily struggle

Stiffened with age and unseen scars

He does not complain, we taught him well

 

Communities of dead from conflicts past

Stand testament to our human failure

Leaders give no deference to the fallen

Dulce et decorum est…, the oldest lie

Loved ones nurse a heavy burden

Complicit in their fervour

 

Hand picked like poppies of the field

Blossoms of the poor and disadvantaged

Moulded to be the nations guardians

Hailed as saviours in the morning

Old heroes slowly fade away

Discarded when the sun goes down

 

In the autumn of our lives

Old soldiers reminisce

Amidst the dreams of death and glory

Two minutes can seem a lifetime

In remembrance of the fallen

A fleeting memory remiss

 

The promise has been broken

No longer duty-bound

Honour lies bloody on the altar

A sacrificial lamb

The soldier has been abandoned

In a society that doesn’t care

 

GraCor © Copyright 2007

Please support the campaign f
or "The abandoned soldier".

Copyright, Graham Cordwell©2007


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