Kerrin P. Sharpe


the last soldier

even before his birth he knew the sky

his childhood flew around
fields like a thrush

1914 he learnt
the heavy language
of guns buff plate

bolt barrel bayonet
he vowed to always remember
each year the great chimneys
of Paris pushed his comrades

nearer tomorrow

those carnations
at the monument

became handfuls
of ash
his medals began fighting

in the word war he
heard fatherless children
his voice
a whistle of bone

his memory heavy with stone



Kerrin P. Sharpe is a teacher of creative writing. She completed Bill Manhire’s Original Composition class at Victoria University of Wellington (1976). She has been published widely in: The Press, Takahe, Snorkel #5 and #6, Turbine 07, bravado 13, Poetry NZ, The New Zealand Listener and Junctures. One of her poems in bravado 13 has been selected for publication in Best NZ Poems 2008. Also in 2008, she was awarded the New Zealand Post Creative Writing Teacher’s Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters.

Sharpe writes: “This poem was written after I had read an obituary for 110 year old Lazare Ponticelli who was the last French foot soldier from World War I. He had promised his dying comrades he would always remember their faces, but as the years went by, he found that more and more difficult.”