How to wear a poppy

Poppy seeds


This is your first remembrance –

Poppies begin life as black seeds

and primary colours come secondly,

Pink for the flesh of man.

Red for the blood of pawn.

Orange for the final dusk.

White for eyes turned back in their sockets.

Yellow for the gangrenous wound.

Purple for the branches of war horse hooves.


This is your second remembrance –

Poppies can be pinned down by wind,

not a single soul but a wren could see

how flowers dance in the ivory soil

how poppies were first worn by farm-hand lovers.


This is your last remembrance –

wear the wind and picture the fallen,

watch crows chase buzzards from blotted trees.

Hear the world in two minutes not observing silence,

remember that poppies do not grow through lapels or Haig,

they start black and do not choose the creed or colour of opiate.

Smell the ground sweet with life not serpentine in spilled intestines.


Red for the cheeks of Conor who ran to sign on.

White for the protruding bone of Khan now gone.

Orange for the star that pulls our tides and flowers.

Purple for the squaddie who hears an engine backfire and cowers.

Pink for the embryo inside a widow who considers abortion,

yellow for her jaundiced daughter who grew from water,

love for the mother who writhes like poppies in torsion.


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