‘Hello, Soldier!’

Out of Khaki

Edward Dyson

I SLUNG me khaki suit to-day.
    Civilian now front heel to chin
    I ’op round on a single shin;
At home in peace I’m bound to stay.
’N’ so they’ve took me duds away.
    It ’urt like strippin’ off me skin!

I put it on three years ago,
    The ole brown rig. There wasn’t then
    A prouder chicken in the pen.
Jist twenty turned, me nibs you’d know
For how I give me chest a throw,
    A man among the best of men.

Me little no the touch I give,
    Me chin’s ez solid ez a rock,
    ’N’ level with the Town ’All clock,
A five-inch grin across me chiv.
“Lor’ love us, this is how to live,”
    Sez I, ’n’ felt I owned the Block.

Glad eyes was ever on the lurk,
    ’N’ little ’earts was thumpin’ warm
    For nippers trainin’ with the swarm
To swat ole Kaiser Bill, or work
A toe-hold on the heathen Turk.
    Fair dink, I loved the uniform!

I soused mine in the brine that day
    When Tophet spilt, ’n’ in the roar
    Of shells that split the sea ’n’ tore
Our boats to chips, we broke any
Up through the pelt of leaden spray,
    ’N’ got our first real taste of war.

They shot me tunic all to rags;
    Then in the perpendic’lar spree
    Me trousers wore off to the knee.
The right-abouts of many bags
Was ground off in the dust ’n’ crags
    A-sittin’ in Gallipoli.

I wore the khaki on the Somme—
    Most time ’twas jist a coat of mud;
    I once come through the battle scud
Stripped mother-naked by a bomb;
’N’ once it took its color from
    Me own ’n’ one good cobber’s blood.

They cheered the khaki through the street
    When we come home with pipers gay,
    But now I’m jist a bloke in grey.
Harf-lost, lob-sided, incomplete,
It’s nothin’ but me spook you’ll meet,
    Ghost-walkin’ in the light o’ day.

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