Hastati by Jo Young


by Jo Young


They flicker to attention, a shoal switchblading,
blinking at bellowed orders,
nervous in anticipation of the wrong-foot or
a stumbled halt. Among the new recruits,
some cannot withstand boots, their feet Adidas-soft with arches dropped.
Grinning bravado, street-wise faces,
smirking at no more rolling balls or all day baking,
because, listen to this,
we will test your piss.
A few days and like lacquered herring they unify,
wanting it with every pore of their acned chests;
the urge to move with this current or die un-comraded,
easy prey, cast aside to the grilled-window grey.
A ribbon in the hand of a martinet gymnast,
the snap of purpose holds fast; they get on parade.


Jo Young is an Army veteran and mum to two young boys. She retired from the Regular Army in 2014 and has been writing ever since. She is currently studying for a doctorate on the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing Programme.

Jo Young was shortlisted for the 2016 Flambard Poetry Prize. An anthology featuring more poems by 2016’s prizewinners is available here.