A poem for the day … Decommissioning

One from my 2003 collection, Blue Lamp Disco.


His uncle’s last Action Man,
stripped of everything
but a crown
of miniature barbed wire,

is pinned, the arms
outstretched, inside the door
of his granny’s jakes.

She’ll bust a gut.

This nephew gets
a box of cast-off weapons,
tools and uniforms
and half a dozen figures

sprawled in materiel.
‘That’s lush,’ he says. ‘That’s wheeker.’

  • wee buns

    The Unofficial Roles of Action Man: what a humorous subject; I can see him crucified in doorway of the smallest room. Never heard ‘wheeker’ before though!

  • sonofstrongbow

    This poem is perhaps more of a commentary on ‘Decommissioning’ than you might think. The ‘put beyond use’ “cast-off” weapons were in actuality passed on to many ‘nephews’ and are in use today. The old ‘Action Men’ do much more than hang about on sh*t house doors. They point out the directions for the crosshairs. Not “lush” or “weeker”.

  • SoS: was the poem written to persuade readers of the points you make? No. Is it a ‘commentary’? I don’t see how it can be anything else. The story is true, more or less, but it seemed to open up a space for misgivings about the symbolism of the decommissioning process. What we ‘inherit’ from previous generations is key to a lot of our grief, isn’t it?

  • pippakin

    I find it almost bitter. A reflection perhaps of some resentment toward the peace.

  • sonofstrongbow


    I didn’t even consider that the work was a ‘persuasion’ exercise. Is it the role of poetry to persuade? Don’t know, but I don’t think so. I do think that people are able to see in a poem many, sometimes conflicting, ideas. For example I didn’t get any hint of bitterness. The use of “lush” and “weeker” took me right to enthusiasm and the simple joys kids can feel when given a toy.

    Inheritance may bring grief but is it an affecting ‘gift’ or does it merely add some shadow to a present where it can be washed out by contemporary experience?

    Btw: “misgivings”‘ an interesting choice of word.