Wilf, George and Curtiss in Borden 1962
Born 17 December 1935 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, the third son of 18 children (nine boys and ninegirls). George enlisted in the RCAF in 1953 as an AC2. George was enrolled in a Rec Spec Course in Alymer in the Spring of '54. CFR in 1967, he served in St. Jean; Clinton; Moose Jaw; El Arish (Egypt); CJATC Rivers; Portage La Prairie; Base Toronto; CFRTC Base Cornwallis; Halifax/Stadacona; CFMCMCU (MarCom). Retiring in 1985 in the rank of Capt. George became an Executive Assistant to aProvincial Government Minister, the Executive Director of the Black United Front of Nova Scotia and subsequently the Executive Director of the Black Cultural Societyof Nova Scotia. George's last retirement was in 1994. He now resides in Dartmouth, N.S. with his wife, Lovelette, also retired Air Force.
George has been writing poetry for nearly 50 years on a wide range of subjects, the main being that of his cultural history. In recent years he has turned to song writing, an extension of his poetry. He has published in various forms of media and communications, printed and electronic. Below are a few samples of his poetry.
SENTINAL OF LOVE
Referring to a fictional episode involving an allied soldier and a German infantryman squared-off in "No-man's Land" in WW1.
I write that men may know
this PEACE inside my head
and were I not to pen it thus
'twere better I were dead.
I scarce know where to start
this truth revealed from God;
which seemed to come from out the sky
upon a lightening rod.
The air turned black as death
o'er this vile battlefield
my foe so near I smell his breath
'mid orders, "DO NOT YIELD."
Then there betwixt us both
and only "twixt we two,
a flash of 'God's ....creation' LIGHT
in words we each well knew.
"I DIED THAT YOU MIGHT LIVE!"
inscribed upon the wind,
a glowing Sentinel of love
God's sixth command on sin.
What else could we but do
our lust to kill betrayed,
our rifles tossed, on bended knee
as separately we prayed.
And so we each endured
full seven days of hell,
as all around us death did come
from bullet, gas and shell.
Still did we kneel and pray
but raised not once to kill,
content that God would bear us up
o'er this Golgotha's Hill.
When 'last death did abate
and both sides did withdraw,
t'were none but he and I to tell
the world, THAT which we saw.
The healing balm of time
has changed we foe...to friend,
as here we stand both hand-in hand
in praise of God, Amen!
Referring to the remnant survivors of wars gone by seen, "present and accounted for" every November 11.
See poppies stained in crimson red
on breast of those "in years,"
who in their thoughts of long ago,
are seen to shed a tear.
For pals and friends of long time past,
more close than brothers...all,
endured the test of field and square,
in answer to the call.
And forth they went close side-by-side,
into the din of doom,
upheld their end as 'steady' men
'mid "blast" and "bam" and "boom."
Each poppy could a story tell
why on this breast is worn
a symbol of the life-long bond
with those for whom they mourn.
So hear you now of recent time
who've never tasted war,
respect and laud those veterans,
they're scarred...for evermore.
ON THE ROAD TO KANDAHAR
Referring to the present day conflict involving our Canadian troops and the loss sustained.
The price of peace is costly
on the road to Kandahar,
for soldiers wearing Maple Leaf
dispatched from land afar.
In aid of peasant people
caught up in civil war,
with home and health
and basic need-
restored as once before.
Mistaken for invaders
by those who would defend,
their homeland and their kinfolk,
until the bitter end.
From land mines, shell and mortar
and snares beyond belief,
the lifeblood of O"Canada...
runs red as Maple Leaf.
So loss of life continues
as each day passes by,
more mothers, wives and sweethearts
re-echo: "Why? Lord Why?"
What's right or wrong -
to stay or go?
There is no certain
way to know.
But, comes the time
when all is done
and each will boast
as having won;
someone may say
now that it's ceased -
"How do we cost
the price of PEACE?"
The Ballad of Beaumont-Hamel
(Ode To “The Caribou” Regiment)
Charlie was a ‘fishin-by,’
from the nor’wester shore
Not the kind of ‘fightin lad,”
that one would choose for war.
But, when the call ‘To Arms!’ was heard,
it stirred him to the core.
So off he went, hell bound and bent -
to blood and guts and gore.
Now Billy was the hunter type,
an inland sort of guy.
A huntin’-trappin’ outdodor kid,
his roof the open sky.
So when he heard his country call,
he did not question: Why?
He simply chose go give ‘his all’ -
no thought that he might die.
Now some may say ‘coincidence,’
while others ‘just by chance.’
No matter which may be the case,
both b’ys were now in France.
Uneasy Charlie Beaumont now,
far from coastal sea,
And anxious Billy Hamel set,
in search of ‘enemy’.
Full half-way through this fateful war,
mid-summer of the year;
the Western Front was falling fast,
called units from the rear.
July the first to be exact
dispatches would record,
the year was nineteen ten and six
the birthday of our Lord
This regiment of briney bys
of Eighty-Eight brigade
were chosen to ‘fill up the ranks’
and come to allied aid
Eight hundred strong and sturdy mates,
their country there to serve,
unto the death, if that need be,
with grit and pride and nerve
In their trench called St. John’s Road,
they huddled side by each
‘Cod catchers,” at another time,
could use a swig of screech.
In putties ‘blue,’ ‘The Caribou’
all trained and strained for fight.
The novice newfie ‘Number One;
knew not their fate and plight.
That night their last upon this earth,
they passed in song and cheer,
I said, ‘me prayers’ was one report,”
while others had a beer.
Beyond a shallow valley lay,
a village stood near by
Beaumont Hamel was the name
where our two lads would die.
Was just past nine that awful day;
Ar bys charged at the foe.
Mid-German fire and tangle wire,
assembled row on row.
Exposed and trapped in ‘no mans land’,
few reached ‘the danger tree.’
Yet none would breach that Prussian line,
brought down to bended knee.
So short a time, just minutes passed,
did that engagement end.
When carnage ceased and death won out,
a hill of vanquished dead.
Two thirds of one whole regiment,
were sacrificed that day.
“Annihilation” was the term,
when news back home was read.
So now their story has been told
of ar bys and the Hun.
Of Charlie, Billy and the rest,
no chance to fire a gun.
Lest we forget the fate they met,
away beyond the sea,
they gave their all, prepared to fall,
for such as you and me.
THE BLACK SOLDIER'S LAMENT
Referring to the WW1Black Battalion formed up in Pictou, NS in 1916
The bugle called and forth we went
to serve the crown our backs far bent,
and build what ere that must be done;
but ne'er to fire an angry gun
no heroes we, no nay not one.
With deep lament we did our job
despite the shame our manhood robbed.
We built and fixed and fixed again,
to prove our worth as proud black men
and hasten sure the Kaiser's end.
From Scotia port to Seaford Square
across to France the conflict there,
at Ville La Joux and Place Peronne
for God and King to right the wrong-
the number two six hundred strong
Stripped to the waist and sweated chest
mid-day's reprieve much needed rest.
We dug and hauled and lifted high
from trenches deep toward the sky-
non-fighting troops and yet we die.
The peace restored the battle won
black sweat and toil had beat the Hun.
Black blood was spilled black bodies maimed
for medals brave no black was named,
yet proud were we our pride unshamed.
But time will bring forth others wars,
then give to us more daring chores
that we might prove our courage strong
preserve the right repel the wrong,
and proud we'll sing the battle song.
Referring to Black Canadians who have died in defense of their country.
They grow not old those stout black men
of yesteryear - gone by'
did heed the call..."To Arms! To Arm!"
amid the battle cry.
From western coast to Scotian shore,
from work and church and dole,
full fortified with pluck and pride,
did face death...brave and bold.
Now there they lie beneath the sod
of foreign land...and sea,
a near forgotten distant thought,
by such as you and me.
But we who claim our Afro kin,
from slave and free alike,
are by blood bound to ever more,
keep faith...with all our might.
LEST YOUTH FORGET
A Remembrance Day Poem For Youth!
Referring to the age and time gap between those who remember WW I, WW II and Korea as compared to today's youth who know only Afghanistan.
In Flander's field where poppies grow,
lay heros brave, I did not know.
For at the time when they saw morn
o'er no-man's land, I was not born
Yet those who were, expect of me
to ne'er forget, "they kept us free!"
As generations long have passed,
how can I their commitment grasp?
So let me in my youthful way,
remember him who died today.
Whose name I know, whose face I see,
whose words and ways are known to me.
For thos who died in Kandahar, Kuwait, Bagdad and lands afar;
Somalia and the Sanai,
fresh in the minds of those as I
Now when I bow in silent prayer
and think of those no longer here,
I'll not break faith with those I knew,
for now I feel the same as you..
Referring to the wider perspective of war and the intangible effects it has on mankind.
To witness death as day-by-day
and marvel at the choice of God;
who lives or dies, maimed scarred or whole-
the poet warrior...watches.
To witness brave stand face-to-face
and boney death exacts its toll;
where timid souls like gophers grub-
the poet warrior...watches.
To witness youth and child-like smile
and in a day, a hardened glare;
what sudden change from boy to man-
the poet warrior...watches.
To witness men of faithless guile
and wrongful deeds with words obscene;
when turned to prayer as life was spared-
the poet warrior...watches.
To witness war as one presides
and strive to fathom humankind;
why choose they strife instead of peace-
the poet warrior...wonders.
(During Feb 2013, a book titled "The Great Black North" containing 90 top black poems in Canada, was put on the shelves at approx $25.00 per copy. On page 45 you will find my poem titled "Black Athletes." I was told by the editors that "Black Athletes" was one of the few chosen to be read at the book launch Friday, Feb 1st 2013 in Vancouver to a most receptive audience)
Seeds of Spartan fathers -
planted in the vineyards of love ...
nurtured from the rains of Mother Africa:
roots of rebirth,
blossoms of beauty,
flowers of fortune.
Gems of Amazon mothers -
adorned in a veneer of ebony ...
polished in the ways of Kunta-land:
pearls of pride,
jewels of justice,
diamonds of destiny.
Born of Hamite stock -
suckled at the fountain of hope ...
modeled after strengths of yester-year:
daring of Harriet Tubman,
spirit of Sojourner Truth,
conviction of Frederick Douglass.
Fruits from nature’s orchard -
plucked from the branches of life ...
preserved along the ‘passage’ of death:
food for fashion,
treats of pleasure,
banquets for gluttons.
Heirs to a mighty legacy -
descendants of warrior kings ...
children of a greater god:
trustees of time,
executors of excellence,
beneficiaries of Blackness.