Officers of the 198th Battery  


Was there really a Sergeant-Major Death

in Grandpa’s artillery regiment?

Here’s the name, falling in at the end

of a list of the Hundred and Ninety-Eighth


Battery’s officers, marching in smooth,

unironic, steady, cursive hand

from General to Colonel to Adjutant

with nothing (except perhaps the faint wraith


of a recoil about its blue-black path)

to make it more than just a name like Lieutenant

Choked-on-mustard-gas or Captain Blown-into-

next-century.  It has my grandfather’s


brand of humour – branding the shed he bequeathed

The Better ‘Ole like a postcard from the Front,

or sticking his scraped-out pipe-bowl under

my young nose so I have to fight to breathe.