TP logo

| Books | Music | Events | New work | Contact & ordering

Lay for the Day
18th April

Ernie Pyle, American journalist, was born in Indiana on 3rd August 1900 and was shot dead on the Pacific island of IeShima on 18th April 1945. His reports on the lives of men and women in the services during World War II have a rare clarity and compassion.

Dear John

In memory of Ernie Pyle

Dear John, I wish you could be more specific
as to just where you are in the Pacific.
I sit and stare at the pages of blue
in the atlas, but which green dot holds you?

Dear Mary, Thank you for the socks and pot
of jam. The Japs have been making it hot
for us here, but at last the beastly weather
has cooled. I hope we will soon be together.

Dear John, Anne did well in her last report.
Now all of her blouses are far too short
in the sleeves, she’s shot up so this last year.
She looks more and more like you. John, I fear…

Dear Mary, You shouldn’t be worried and fret.
You’ve not heard the end of the old man yet.
Though action’s about as far as it could get
from here, I keep my head well down, you bet!

Dear John, Are you sure this landing’s not risky?
Did you get the bottle of Daddy’s whisky?
Charles says please could you capture a Jap sword!
I miss you, dear. I’m half-frantic, half-bored…

Dear Mary, Well, of course I may get slightly wet!
Is Charlie good? Annie still teacher’s pet?
I kiss you all. And darling, don’t forget –

Dear Mrs Wilkes, It is with deep regret…

John Gibbens
from Zeus’s Camera

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar

Home | Books | Music | Events | New work | Contact & ordering