General Downer ordered Captain Pain to wake me up early,
each nail driven flush, head screwed on backwards.
Lieutenant Doubt brought in wedges, Sergeant Fear drilled the holes
in a blancmange of self-esteem curdled by HMV (Her Mother’s Voice).
If Admiral Alcohol could float all our boats,
if Rear-Vice-Sub-Private would only obey,
if Colonel Attitude would finally kick in
to set fire to boot camps, clear the fog
of bullying tactics, stomp on officers’ messes.
Meander, sweet nothings, refuse to cower, shouted at,
moved like chess pieces on an invisible board.
Raise your meek bosoms in the rousing language
of nineteenth century phrasing, triumphant with Verdi,
gallant with Radetzky, drunk with Turkish lore.