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Voices from the trenches

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 15, 2014

By Helen M. Reuter

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I wanted to report the passing of one of the regular Bugle readers, Micheal Reuter, who died on Friday, July 25, aged 77. He had a life-long interest in local history and contributed to a couple of books about Stourbridge and Kinver using many of his old postcards. He used to make up stories to my brother and I when we were children, and more recently, to his three grandchildren. I too have an interest in history and story telling, and so, as I was reading to him recently from The Bugle, I thought that my World War One poem might fit nicely into your poems page, Black Country Ballads. The funeral will take place at the Wollaston Free Church today (Thursday, August 14) at 11am.

I stand with my rifle aimed at the dark scene.

I'm on front line patrol; it's cold and raining.

I'm being battered by the storm.

Wind penetrates my skin and uniform.

I run my tongue over dry cracked lips,

wiping my nose before it drips.

There are flashes of light.

Shell fire is hitting the sky like lightning strikes,

offering glimpses of the hell I plan to forget:

trees mutilated by shells, like the men,

stench and decay oozing from the rain drenched ground,

like blood oozing from a wound.

I close my eyes, yet I can't shut out the noise:

men giving orders; the screams and the cries;

the sounds of machine guns and shell fire;

the cry of comrades falling into the quagmire.

I open my eyes.

Too much at stake. Too many lives.

Bullets of rain fall down from the sky,

hitting me, full force, straight in the eye,

blending with tears that won't stop falling,

drowning out the pleas of my comrades calling:

'pull me out of this mud,

which grips my feet and blends with my blood.'

Can't bring them back till it's safe, till it's quiet

when the evening assault ends in a while.

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