M.E. Medley


Radios blare,
Sordid street and city square;

Wailing music thin and high,
Jungle rhythm from the sky;
Stench and squalor,
Tom-tom beat,
Blinding glare, and plaguing heat;
Howling hell of every breed,
Every colour, every creed,
Indigo Nubian,
Swarthy Greek;
Over all that garlic reek;
Shouting vendors seeking trade,
Beggars, sleeping in the shade;
Clanging Tram;
Raucous Horn;
“Backsheesh!” – from the newly born;
Beast of burden’s shocking load;
Goats and garbage in the Road;
Mouldering tombs,
Ancient bones,
“Conducted tours” – to piled-up stones;
Gaping tourists, seeing sights,
Early dawns, and silvering nights;
“Hacking” camels,
Native guide
(Dirty postcards on the side),
Invitation from a tout,
Abuse in Arabic from the Lout;
Scrawny chicken,
Wooden plough,
Women cooking on a Dhow;
Dirty Nile in shimmering haze,
Buffalo in a field of Maize;
Dusty Palms,
Clumsy Hoe,
Egrets flying in a row;
Water-jar on woman’s head,
House of mud with Native bed;
Iron rations,
Bully stew,
Rusty wire round Matruh;
Convoys ploughing through the sand,
Sudden death on every hand;
Crashèd plane,
Blitzèd tank,
Wooden crosses, rank by rank;
Choking dust, and blinding sand,
In a pitiless, barren, land.

Private J. Broome

Taken from the anthology ‘Poems from the Desert – Verses by members of the Eighth Army’.  Published by George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.

1 Comment on “M.E. Medley

  1. First saw part of this poem in the colour section of the 'Sunday Times' about forty-five years ago. Memorised it and have done so with the rest of the poem now..

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