Poem number 23.
I live near a War Veterans Home. I’ve noticed they seem to be marketing themselves lately. I wondered why, and came up with this imaginary scenario.
War Veterans Home
A gaudy flag flies at the entrance
of the Hurtle Bank War Veterans Home.
Not a national or regimental flag
This one was not hoisted by a wounded soldier.
This one will not be saluted by beribboned, medalled men.
It proclaims “Retirement Village”.
A sail-like banner, the kind you see
as you pass an outer-suburban development
designed to attract the attention
of young couples and astute investors.
It beats in the breeze, flashing its oranges, blues and yellows
over the red, white and black five km per hour speed limit sign.
The marketing manager chose it without much thought.
His job is to make the War Veterans Home financially sustainable.
Occupancy has fallen drastically. Old soldiers drop almost daily.
Newly wounded soldiers are too young for a place like this.
The home needs to broaden its appeal,
find another demographic.
Its market niche is too constraining.
The marketing manager has taken aim
at the residential wings.
Coral Sea can stay, it conjures up tropical islands.
But Tobruk, Gallipoli, Long Tan, Kapyong, Bangka?
They all have to be renamed, realigned, repositioned
if the Hurtle Bank War Veterans Home is to compete
in today’s increasingly competitive economic environment.
In a few decades, they can change the names
to Oruzgan, Charmestan, Kandahar, Mirabad, Baluchi
But until inflows catch up with outflows
he’ll go with Sunset, Windsong and Gracedale,
Orange Grove and Grevillea.
Much more attractive.
Much less depressing.
Much more marketable.
Much more rewarding.