A roar over my head closes
from behind and drowns the radio.
Binoculars brought to bear, I observe
the seed embedding. It grows
a small orange blossom. Morphing
into a larger, darker flower
climbing from the point of impact.

Rain patters over the iron roof
as sods and stones strike sonorously.

The flower is gone, dissipated
in a cloud of dust, and silence


Bloom was the first full poem that I wrote, and this is the fourth draft, which may not be the final version. It was prompted from my memory of watching artillery shells burst when training as an artillery forward observer at Warcop training area in Cumbria in 1991. On the FOO course I gave an incorrect map reference and the first ranging shell burst about 150m in front of me (the wartime safety distance is 250m, in peacetime double that). Normally you don’t see the orange flame of a bursting shell, I only saw it for an instant, and that most likely because of how close I was to the impact point. By chance the shell landed right in the centre of the field of vision of my binoculars. Needless to say this event was accompanied by copious swearing as I ducked back down inside the trench. That was followed by “Add one thousand, repeat.”

As part of my drafting process I read out the poem on video camera, so you can watch/listen to Bloom as well as read it.



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