One Man’s Kindness in No Man’s Land

Tattered faceless silhouettes
Staggered across no-man’s land,
Fumbling to attach bayonets,
Unkind weapons in shaky hands.
Wisps of men blundered in thick of gas
Back to the comfort of a mud-filled trench,
Eyeless heroes in useless masks
Smothering in the toxic stench.
One innocent soldier wandering wide,
Heading for trenches on the other side,
Felt the tentative touch of a decent hand
Guide him through the horror of no-man’s land.

© Kim M. Russell, 2016


Image found on

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night # 182

Tonight, Open Link Night is hosted by Gayle from Bodhirose’s Blog. She’s been telling us that the U.S. is well into autumn now: temperatures are beginning to drop, the trees are bursting into their autumn colours and it’s also a popular time for many festivals and art shows.

Over here in the UK, most schools have celebrated Harvest Festival by now and children are eagerly awaiting Halloween and then  5th November, Guy Fawkes Night. On 11th November it is Remembrance Day, when I shall be travelling into Norwich to see myself on the big screen, reading poems inspired by a workshop on ‘acts of kindness in war’, one of which I have shared tonight.

37 thoughts on “One Man’s Kindness in No Man’s Land

    1. I couldn’t find the picture I chose from a pile of photographs we were given at the workshop. But you could see one of the soldiers stretching out his hand. The whole workshop was about acts of kindness in war, which was really hard to get our heads around at first. We were in what used to be an old shoe shop that is now a shop/cafe/meeting place run by kindness warriors and called The Missing Shoe – a lovely place to get together with like-minded people. It was a small group of women – no men, except for a member of the Writers’ Centre Norwich, who didn’t really take part and wasn’t there for one of the sessions. I really like the idea of kindness warriors. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. November 11th – we call it Veterans’ Day.
    War is hell and I detest the euphemisms used to “soften” its reality: “casualties” — there is nothing casual about deaths by war.
    A stirring poem. Thank you for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t imagine the horror and stench from the toxic gases ~ I am specially touched by the comforting hand at the end Kim ~ Make me believe that goodness and kindness can be found even in the worst of circumstances ~

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know that there are many kindnesses going out there all over the world between decent people. I just wish we heard more of these stories rather than the negative ones that are always in the news. Your poem and your writing about your group made me remember a posting that I did several years ago called “The Christmas Truce”…I think you may be interested, Kim, if you haven’t heard about it already. I’ll leave you the link. Thanks for sharing your wonderful poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really takes me there. And I was just saying to a new friend how contradictory it is for me to be such an utter pacifist and still somehow simultaneously harbor great respect for all who have fought to make it possible for me to be a pacifist…

    Liked by 1 person

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