By BernardYoung


When young we used this grass in battles.
Plucked from stems
the heads became darts.

An added bonus
was that each dart could be pulled apart
and turned into several smaller ones.

They stuck well to woolly jumpers
and to hair.

They couldn’t pierce the skin,
let alone a heart,
but it was easy to pretend they could
and so enact a gory end.

Many a brave warrior,
as tall as a tree,
as strong as a Roman soldier,
was felled after being struck
by several darts/arrows/spears.

these skirmishes didn’t end in bloodshed or tears.
They finished when you heard your Mum’s voice
calling you in for tea.

Today, I happened to pass an armoury of these ‘weapons’
growing by the side of a path,
and games, then names, from childhood
flooded back; Diane, David, Nigel, Janet,
Anthony, Rosemary, Rita, Charlie…

At home I searched the internet
(who could have conceived of the internet
way back then!)
to discover what our dart is really called:

Hardeum Murinum
(aka False Barley).

Well, we never knew that did we Diane,
David, Nigel, Janet, Anthony,
Rosemary, Rita, Charlie…

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