Armistice Day Poem

Thinking of the story my mother told me of the wounded soldier who came to teach at her school in New Deer in Scotland. These soldiers were encouraged to return to the community. How difficult it must have been to be faced by these innocent young faces and in light of the injuries they now carried.


Mother Recalls a Soldier Teacher – 1919


I am not sure what subjects he taught.

His class, all of whom were rigid with fright.

A troubled dimension to the schoolroom it brought.


Not a child that first day, his eye contact sought.

Repatriated early, he now made a terrible sight.

I am not sure what subjects he taught.


He carried on; sympathy unsought;

He stood before them, disfigured, barely upright.

A troubled dimension to the schoolroom it brought.


The door to the schoolroom never athwart;

to every Scottish child in that room, a birth-right.

I am not sure what subjects he taught.


But into the classroom, lessons, none ought,

so young, to have seen such terrible plight.

A troubled dimension to the schoolroom it brought.


He stood before them, a revealing report,

of modern war and its aftermath in vivid light.

I am not sure what subjects he taught.

A troubled dimension to the classroom it brought.


Benita H. Kape © 12.1.2014



NOVEMBER and the Cherry Tree

Cherry blossom 2nd year

This is the Cherry tree in her 2nd year;  her blossoms even more dense this year

November   and   the   Cherry   Tree

(protesting colonisation of every kind)


We have had temperatures in the twenties

and rising, normal for this time of year

and our place on the globe. But last night

a spring storm swept in with all

the force it could muster. I watched

through my high lounge window,

the beauty of the tree in full bloom,

blousy, pink; and I loved her November

promise of the warmer months ahead.

But we get them at this time of year, these

late spring storms.


In the morning blossoms, light, pink

but looking like confetti, covered

our car windows and the yard.

And the Cherry Tree revealed

more leaf; the density of blossom

sadly and exponentially reduced.

The wind was still blowing, and

though we get the equinox winds

in October, this was a more

powerful spring storm. And yet,

I have faith in the Cherry Tree’s

recovery; a wealth of leaves

we expect in November. On many

an occasion,  I feel as battered

if I never speak out.


I wanted to call this poem simply

“November” but so many are

already so named. A large

percentage of which shout

of colonisation; the arrogance

of an old world; even to months

of the year and what’s to be expected

of a word, a noun – a top versus

a bottom of the globe; and taking

for granted that November means

autumn and endings.


November Aotearoa is spring and beginnings;

Beltane then Christmas is the way it is:

of Pohutukawa and Manuka in flower.

November, as a title for this poem?

Something suggests no, do not go there today:

“November and the Cherry Tree” it is. And

this is my “colonization within literature” protest.


Benita H. Kape © 2.11.2018

Cherry Tree after the storm 2

Cherry Tree in November:  my battered survivor