Blood and tears

On Anzac Day, Samoa College student, Romario Pose and L.D.S. Pesega College student Layton Lolo received Highly Commended awards from Samoa Stationery and Books in the 2016 First World War Centenary Competition. The competition was organised and funded by the New Zealand High Commission with the winning entry representing Samoa in France. Romario’s entry was a letter to the Prime Minister while Layton’s entry was a poem. Professor Silafau Sina Va’ai of the National University of Samoa judged the entries.

Blood and tears



Gunfire and cannon blasts

Are the sounds that fill the air

Planes fly over with supplies and provisions

I look around to tear-filled sobs and grateful stares


Time is shifting; the world on fire

One minute in bed the next in full march

Thoughts of loved ones fill the mind

It stabs the heart with sorrow, making lips parched


Remembering the reasons for being here

The reasons for violence and bloodshed

Barricades providing protection

Kind and peaceful words unsaid


Fights for freedom and for the better of the rising generation

To make right every wrong

Fulfilling it with every casualty

Every bullet fired from every gun


But there is still the feeling of pity and sorrow

For every fallen person both woman and man

Kneeling down to a lifeless corpse

Closing their fear-filled eyes with the brush of a hand


Questions of strategic decisions that should never have been made

Yet following them anyway because it’s not our place

Firing at the enemy, ducking under sandbags for defense

Only to look into a fellow soldiers face


Lying on the ground; blood-soaked uniform; his hand on the trigger

A last show of respect my assault upon the slayer

A hit to the shoulder taking him to the ground

His blood falls to earth; adding to old blood with a new layer


Days pass by and neither side desire to surrender

Each day a struggle as deaths reach higher numbers

Each loss a casualty of war; cast out of mind and forgotten

With every passing second, either side grows bolder


But what is it all for? Do lives need to be lost in order to find peace?

Do men need to be sent off to war never to return to the ones they love?

Leaders see the greater good and press forward

Their plans to strike are as fierce as a hawk to a dove


Tanks follow rows and rows of soldiers, crushing rocks with every meter An explosion sends soldiers flying through the air

Some return to their feet only to be gunned down again

Their faces permanently frozen in soundless stares


A pain to the leg brings me to the ground in a howl of agony

Looking at the wound to see precious blood flow to the dirt

I hide among the dead bodies; the nose fills with the stench of 

I cradle the injury with a piece of cloth from my shirt


Then darkness falls upon the battlefield as I continue to hide

Wondering if I’ll make it; my life flashing before my eyes

I see a light coming down the dirt path; I fear for my life

But alas it is friend not foe and I escape that awful night


Hospital beds line the medical tents at camp

The sight, one I wish not to remember at all

More and more come; there seems no end

One day they are well, next they fall


Days upon days, months upon months

Some days are triumphant with golden praise

But soon it’s all over and done

An incredible short-lived phase


After the fires burn down and “they that oppose” are gone

We return to the battlefield with high expectation

We loot fallen soldiers weapons both friend and foe

Then we try to move on from all this devastation


A sight catches my eye and I almost cry

A look at the face of my best friend among the pile of the dead

A picture forever remembered; never forgotten

One permanently burnt in my head


As I think about all this horror, truths come to mind

Battle is often painted and smothered in gold

We honour and praise those who stand and rise to the occasion

The brave, the respected, the fearless and even the bold


But what did they think of all this war?

Of every single battle of the greatest terrible fray

Crying out for strength to their God

Pleading, crying, beseeching; they pray


Friends and brothers in arms are what we are

Always having each others’ backs as we fought 

Lessons in valour and of heroism

Of honour and more we learnt as they taught


The wounded, the dying all too many

All of whom are lost and far from home

Did they wonder if it was all worth it?

Every bullet taken and every enemy felled; were their sacrifices known?


Broken men can no longer heal within

But one other thing broken is people’s lives

Widows in black sobbing with mourning

Each one started our as wives


Pining with sorrow for the death of a loved one

Feeling the heartache of each one lost

Freedom has a price that is incredibly high

Some can’t even imagine the cost


                 ** * * *


 They fought for my freedom and I’m thankful for that

They fought for the freedom of what I believe

To speak without opposition; to write without critiquing

To think with a new perspective and simply achieve


What can we do to show our appreciation?

To show everyone that we still remember?

Remember the blood spilled for us

Spilled with feeling so full and tender


If we don’t fight for the things that matter most

To fight for what others did; to protect our liberty

The time may come when it won’t be ours

The time where it simply will cease to be


So when we see that we need to stand tall

When the moment that our freedom’s in danger

To bravery, action, courage and spirit

None of us will be strangers


My battlefield may be different from the past

Everyone today has one, what’s yours?

But despite our different battles we are there for each other

We fight for our faith, we live every lesson and we win every war


Remember the fallen!


Layton Sailimalo Lolo

L.D.S. Pesega

Highly Commended

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