The Nicolson Institute: William Smith




September 3rd, 1939
A young man, no more than 20
Sent, by king and country
To fight the German menace.
Positioned on an AA gun and taught to destroy
Anything that moves in the sky.

Six months surviving, bombs, raids, guns
Standing with mouth closed around a cigarette
And finger closed around a trigger
Demolishing the sky
Then the return home, elated
Glad to be alive. Congratulated...

And then death from cancer.

It was not a raid that killed my Grandfather,
Not a bomb, a plane, a gun.
None of these violent offending things,
But that cigarette.

by William Smith