The Impossible Decision | Rob McKinnon

Protracted years of drought
led to unsurmountable debts
that gnawed destructively
and decayed relationships.

Obsessive routines
of checking climate predictions
that never forecasted the treasured rain
needed to break the dread.

Repairs undone mounted
essential fodder almost depleted
livestock grew unbearably thinner
crops failed to progress,
patience broken.

Extended family history
of demanding toil and lengthy days
created generational pressure
on weary minds,
thoughts of leaving
seemed like a betrayal.

Government assistance
would only lead to more time
but not more hope
which had evaporated
like the sparse showers
on the scorched ground.

Breaking point reached
when the weighty burdens
became intolerable
and no change in the weather was likely.

A previous impossibly imagined decision
is made to leave the land.

 


Rob McKinnon lives in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. His poetry has previously been published in ‘From the Ashes – A poetry anthology in support of the 2019-2020 Australian Bushfire relief effort’ Maximum Felix Media, The Wellington Street Review, Sūdō Journal, Sage Cigarettes Magazine, Re-Side Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow Literary Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Dissident Voice, Tuck Magazine and InDaily.

Fromelles – 19 July 1916 | Rob McKinnon

Horrifying noises of the battle
screams of orders
voices of other soldiers
barely penetrated his consciousness.

Head pressed against the sandbags of the parapet
he was terrified.

Haunting thoughts of his sweetheart
begging him not to enlist
pleading with him that it was not his war
but succumbing to the pressures
of other boys and townsfolk
who were seduced by calls
to fight for King and Country.

Father’s stoic handshake
backslapping encouragement to give them hell
Mother’s tearful hug
imploring him to keep safe
recruitment, training,
the boat trip and Egypt
before being deployed,
all seemed like an instant ago.

Entering no man’s land
he met massacring enemy fire.


Writer’s Commentary

As an Australian, the legends of the ANZACs have loomed large in our national ethos but if I had of been in the same situation, whether that was at ANZAC Cove, Fromelles, Villers-Bretonneux or any battle in any war, I know I would have been petrified.


Rob McKinnon lives in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. His poetry has previously been published in Re-Side Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow Literary Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Dissident Voice, Tuck Magazine and InDaily.