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He was the English Literature and Poetry master

at our boy’s only secondary school

tall and balding with a clipped military moustache

and Oxford accent


In between Homer, Wordsworth and Blake

he would regale us with tales of his service

as an infantry soldier in the world war


Wounded in the lungs and head

he spent a month in a field hospital in Africa

before being shipped back home

to recuperate in England


Unimpressed by the poetry and his

story, after class we would stagger around

the playground, hands clasped to heads and chests

calling out in schoolboy falsettos

collapsing with laughter while

mimicking his favourite line


I’ve only got one lung

the other’s rubber!

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© Johnmichael Simon



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