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ANZAC Day Poem: ‘The Plaque on the Stone’ by Alan Cunneen

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“I wrote this a few years ago after a dawn service sitting on the back veranda enjoying a beer,” said Alan Cunneen pictured here at his local parish PHOTO; Alan Cunneen

‘The Plaque on the Stone submitted to The Catholic Weekly by Alan Cunneen


The young boy looked at the war monument,
At the writing in lead that was there,
He didn’t know why he scrolled down the names,
But he found his own surname, St Clair.

The initials were different; there was a cross at the end,
It didn’t make much sense at all,
So he stared and was puzzled by the writing above,
“To Those That Answered the Call. “

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One of two statues of Anzac soldiers by Alan Somerville at Sydney’s Anzac Bridge. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

He turned around, and looked  to see
An old man seated still, on his own
And the old fellow got up and with the aid of his stick,
And shuffled over to the plaque on the stone

He said son you look lost, I can see by your eyes,
Can I help with your trouble that is,
And I’m not here alone, I’ve got mates you can’t see,
I like to come down to those that I miss.

The boy spoke quietly with a quizzical look,
Why is my name here on the stone,
And why is the rising sun on the badge at the top,
And what’s the red flower, he said in hushed tones.

Well sit down my boy the old fellow said
I can’t tell you all, there’s not time,
But your name is there because lads just like you,
Went forth and put their life on the line.


And the cross at the end means he didn’t come home,
His blood was spilt far away,
Perhaps in a war grave, or somewhere not known,
The sacrifice is the same where he lay.

And his green slouch hat with the upturned side,
Was the rising sun badge that you saw,
When men fought for each other and died saving a mate,
They call it Esprit de Corp.

Photo: Shutterstock

The poppy you see with the petals so red,
It comes from a long time ago,
It’s the colour of blood, but it never died out,
It flowered throughout the whole “show,”

Another green shrub, well it’s really a herb,
And we wear it with pride once a year,
In the lapel of a coat or in a brooch or a hat,
It’s pungent smell can bring forth a tear.

Well that ought to do, I’ve told you enough,
And wars are not praiseworthy at all,
But sometimes we must stand, against things that are wrong,
And that’s why we “Answered the Call.”

The young boy just stared, he was starting to know,
Just a couple more things before home,
But as he turned to ask, the old man shuffled past,
Nodding goodbye to his mates on the stone.

 Alan Cunneen


Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2018

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