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This poem is taken from PN Review 176, Volume 33 Number 6, July - August 2007.

Four Poems Stephen Romer

Corporal Contact

'Everything about the ree-lay-shun-ship between men and women makes me angry. It's all a fucking balls-up. It might have been organized by the army, or the Ministry of Food.' - Philip Larkin to Jim Sutton, July 1943

Austerity days
of 'winning the peace',
Churchill growling on the wireless
and my father doing National Service
a little too late for Action
and excused most activity,
asthma confining him to deskwork
amid mass courts-martial
and futile inspections
by the bloody Brass Hats.

A lonesome weekly escapade
out of camp
to the nearest town included
hand-holdings with strangers,
...


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