Unkempt, unshaven, in a corner seat
That forever and a day has been
His kingdom, nursing with wizened hands his little gin,
He contemplates in silence his own feet.
Draping the collar of a grubby overcoat,
Shaggy white locks declare not merely years,
But spoilt and wasted wisdom, blast curse
Of spent life, woven with the scabbed soot
Of all our human spate. He’ll not say it, but tears
Are there behind, beneath, beyond the cowl
Of English reserve. His ancient, furrowed brow
Shadows, but cannot hide, the princely scowl
That thinks on comrades – found, made and lost -
In World War I – as were it yesterday – so long ago.