Canto 72: Debilitations

People had become dehumanised. They were like animals, urinating & defecating wherever they were. I somehow didn’t react to the bodies, I had seen carnage galore during the war. But to see human beings walking around without any sense of dignity, that was utterly appalling. And that smell has lived with me to this day.

Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown


Defeating the Wehrmacht

‘Tis true, ’tis day; what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise, because ’tis light?
John Donne

Men shuffled thro’ the snow with frozen feet,
Beshawl’d as hags, thick whiskers wire & grey,
The gamble fail’d, an army in retreat,
Avoiding another bloody Cannae;
As in the East,
To the cruel Katyusha,
Hordes of Russkis releas’d across the Vistula.

It was less offensive action,
More the milt’ry parade,
As Berlinwards marches Russian
With the Saragozan maid,
Narr’eyed avengers talion
Primal instinct obey’d,
Zhukov commands the Mazovian plain,
The Wolf’s Lair now diminish’d of Wolfsbane.

With freedom of the world at stake,
With Wolves of war abroad,
Riding the Snake the Russians take
The Moscow-Berlin road,
Racing on hated enemies to put them to the sword.

Warsaw
Jan 12th
1945


New Normal

What is’t to toil amidst the din of war,
To talk of honour, or a dreadful fear,
To live on hope, the shadow’d best we have
Joseph Badworth

A rumbling drone, reminiscent of Hell
Grows louder when the front lines sag & crack,
Posnaniensis desolately dwell
Where roads of Reich & progress cul-de-sac;
Shop windows all
Display fray’d cardboard goods
While on the farmer’s stall just sickly looking spuds.

The solitary cafe sold
Ersatz unpalatable
The only cinema did hold
Heimatfilms sentimental
This last one now some three months old
But life had grown so dull
That still to these unheated seats they drift
To watch again with friends when ends the shift.

As one departs the populace –
By handcart, horse & hand
Pans, matresses, sacks, suitaces
Plod in a gypsy band
Sie gaben ihr leben for Fuhrer, Volk & Vaterland

Posen
17th January
1945


Bastards

We are very slightly changed
From the semi-apes who ranged
India’s prehistoric clay
Rudyard Kipling

This War’s final dramas know no pity,
Satanical eupraxia all sides,
Effluviums of mass’d virility
Swarms from the east to sieze its nightly brides;
Libidos thrust
On peach-ripe alabasters
Eyes like spring skies ’til lust claws girls to their ‘masters.’

Thro’ cellars, barns, the came in queues,
Deflower’d ev’ry petal,
Stenching of cigarettes & booze –
Under each boiling kettle
This harrowing from hell renews,
When the harsh pains settle
Some bled to death, some hang themselves from trees,
Some sang a heimatlider on raw knees.

& some shall bear a bastard child,
Eyes so slightly slanted,
One mother styl’d her night defil’d
That her boy implanted –
Her little miracle of that lifetime’s wish Godgranted.

Wartheland
January
1944


Desperations

Despair is texture; without it
We should not know how to face
The thing with such certainty
John Silkin

Tho’ shehila stay’d, these breathing corpses,
Dancing attendant to the Kapo’s stick,
Are oft’ selected to please the doctors…
Young Ludwig gains six inches with a brick;
They pass him by,
Clutching a surgeon’s knife,
A joyous, silent sigh… another day of life!

If you’re content with a little
Enough’s as good as a feast,”
But poor Joseph drops his kettle
& could not digest the yeast,
Gracile bones huckstering brittle,
As flesh bore he the least,
Today the guards would bundle him away…
Ludwig sits down to pray where last he lay.

The rumble of the Russian hosts
Murmurous daily near,
Like phantom ghosts the gibbet posts
& ovens disappear…
When rainbow stars are driven off to march the snowy fear.

Auschwitz
Jan 20th
1945


A Futile Plea

Look at me, & I look back;
you have eyes, but I have none;
you may speak, but I am speechless
Socrates

Clock running out, work left, the secret police
Boost every effort, hypermotile burst,
Wedging dirt within each petrean crease,
From secret hiding bases unimmers’d
Men crawl into
Custody protective,
Helmuth Von Moltke too, pensively reflective.

Drap’d in her finest furs, Freya
Visited Heinrich Mueller,
Himmler’s heir; they talk’d together,
I’m afraid we can no longer
His most famous name consider,
But there will be no torture –
& Frauline!” “Yes?” “When all this is over
Do come back to us…” her smile hid terror,

Thro’ sheer heart’s love, the whole world crash’d
About her in a spin,
The Justice dash’d off inky flash’d
Sentences of death, in
That paper pile stew’d noble name, cook’d in a loony bin.

Tegel Prison
January 23rd
1944


Landsturm

Woe, woe, unto the fallen city !
Where are thy streets,
Thy towers
Johann Sigurjonsson

Max Stemmler requisition’d by Goebells,
Reich-remnant summon’d to the Prussien,
Oathsworn to resist in bloody battles
The brainwash of the Bolshevik Russian;
His sons were dead,
Them martyrs in his eyes,
Blessing the blood they bled he dons the Jager’s guise.

No rhyme nor reason could explain
The thrall of the Nazi hymns,
Tho’ zest of Hitler’s early reign
Now death’s gory paroxyms,
When loyalty could still ordain
Stepping into chasms…
The GI’s pierce the gloomy atmosphere
With an unanswer’d, “What we doing here?”

Survival’s trivium, of war,
An old man grown full sick,
Thro’ shatter’d door he’d seen before
Torn poster clung to brick,
‘All this we owe to der Fuhrer!’ he laughs all lunatic.

Berlin
February 3rd
1945


Cold War

It has been raining, but the rain
is done & the children kept home
have begun opening their doors
Robley Wilson

The Big Three meet in reconquer’d Crimea,
Churchill, ailing Roos’veldt & the Georgian,
An august body stately & austere
Discussing this thorny Polish question;
As the Allies,
Grand sharers of the cost,
Inquire thro’ narrow’d eyes, forged friendships freeze & frost.

“Surrender unconditional;
Come fin’ adest revum…”
“Born of order’s calm revival;
Status quo ante bellum…”
Tho’ the bloodlust soon to settle
Still Stalin beat the drum,
“Shoot fifty thousand gen’rals out of hand
To cleanse the devil from the dark Deutschland!”

Churchill gestured with the fury,
Iniquitously rack’d,
“You would kill me ‘fore I’m parley
To such a savage act!”
Such idealistic diff’rences do seldom merge in pact.

Yalta
Feb 13th
1945


Peacemongers

Thus one acquires a taste for disaster
& looks for the daily paper’s headline.
Seeing misfortune’s influential astral
Raymond Queneau

As the head of Air Section, Bletchley Park –
A Jew call’d Jim Rose – phon’d the ministry,
He realised how much kept in the dark
Was his role in murd’rous copartnerie;
Enigma’s gains
Now used to justify
Beeswarms of deadly planes, fraught Furfurs of the sky.

“But Dresden’s baroque & beautiful,
Not a threat to anyone,
Please don’t bomb rococo rubble
As with poor Beethoven’s Bonn!”
Bomber Harris burst his bubble,
“Man, nothing can be done –
We’ll do the city as a transport hub…”
Rose slamm’d down the handset, slink’d thro’ the pub,

Flopp’d in his seat, sipp’d his thick stout,
Then stood up at the bar,
Lungs spurting out unearthly shout,
“How lucky we all are!”
Now slamming doors he runs outside & roars off in his car.

Fenny Stratford
February 12th
1945


Dresden

What wrath of Gods, or wicked influence
Of Starres conspiring wretched men t’afflict
Hath powr’d on earth this noxious pestilence
Edmund Spenser

Squadron Leader Bligh completes his home run,
Now Archie Day so he may fray again,
For if he were once more fell’d from the sun,
The network might he yield at torture’s pain;
Taking control
Of brand new Wellington,
Perform’d he pinpoint roll & join’d the formation.

Skimming the cloudrealm wing-to-wing,
Fokker flights well push’d aside,
The ack-ack air a-shuddering
Brutal bombs fell far & wide,
The noble art of murdering
Efficiently applied…
Streets & churches with bleets of terror fill,
A rare few reach the safety of the hill.

As ghastly Magdeburg suffer’d
Each city shares its hell,
Guiding steel bird, at calous word
Bligh’s load adds to the swell;
Far cry from gallant ’40 these cold slaughters ariel.

Germany
February 13th
1945

 

 

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