Canto 77: Reverberations

The dust from the battlefield made the entire universe dirty


Two Mothers

My mum makes us the world
as wide as the world
and as small as the circle of her arms
Ana Sampson

“We’re shackin’ up mam!” sez Maggie Sumner,
Rose gave a joyous blessing with her tears,
How handsome was this Sergeant Dillinger
If only she could turn back thirty years…
…& then… bombshell,
Love-bubble dissipates
“Butt Mam, prepare y’sell… we’re livin’ in the States!”

They pledge their troth at Saint Mary’s,
Honeymoon by Morecambe sea,
Then a tayle for childhood fairies
Very far from family,
Maggie drives past countless dairies,
Carlton points at a tree…
“I used to climb that as a boy!” he said,
His white farm-house cresting the mount ahead.

Rita’s life-reason, ripest pearl,
Returns to her by car,
Her senses swirl, who is this girl?”
“Maggie, come meet mah ma!”
Well aint ya girl just beautiful!” Maggie replies a “Ta!


Ending Days

As waters rising ‘neath the snows of winter,
As hamlets flaming from one secret spark,
So shall the chiefs of Erinn rally round him
Teig Dall O’Higgin

Christmas quickly passes for the victors
A deep regret felt deeper than the day
When spaces at tables crude evictors
Of the faces of those fellows pass’d away;
War must be wrong
Mother of misery
If gruesome is this song, what of reality?

What of reality, my friend,
My heart it pains to describe
When mankind to their deaths shall send
The stallions of each tribe
The bloody, beastly, bull-brained end
Of life’s sequestred vivbe
Horrendous pain too extreme for feeling
The world celebrates its midnight peeling

The River Liffy flows with cheer
Beer, Guinness, Stout & wine
The first new year without the fear
Since nineteen thirty nine
Upstream a cache of rifles stolen while the Tommies dine.


Nuclear Secrets

Sea go dark, dark with wind,
Feet go heavy, heavy with sand,
Thoughts go wild, wild with the sound
Allen Curnow

Kremliners felt the Hiroshiman wind,
Set foxen foreknowledging to forage,
Determin’d to be never left behind,
Else forfeit hard-fought mast’ry of an Age;
In Canada
Men have fail’d to detect
Those charged to deliver the Manhattan Project!

Thro’ clandestine operations
Samples of uranium
Leave Chicago’s secret stations
With the formulae to come,
Then a shock interrogation,
Canadians struck dumb!
Revealing how the Reds did infiltrate
The upper apparatus of their state.

Mackenzie King got on the phone
To Truman & Atlee
& tho’ deep fawning forc’d the tone
Of his apology,
All round the room there blew a gloomy breeze derisory!


A New Britain

In unescutcheoned privacy, my bones
Shall crumble soon, – then give me strength to bear
The last convulsive throe of too sweet breath!
David Gray

Of all the combatants who fought the wars
Britannia fought the hardest of them all
Her coffers cull’d, sweat pouring from her pores,
Her empire straining, St£rling in free-fall;
Blood for the cause
A vasy vox Populi
A home fit for heroes!” those very heroes cry!

Kath was born in sunny weather
On the baby-booming wave,
Now the NHS shall know her
From the cradle to the grave,
No sixpences in the drawer
For medicines mums save;
No more rickets, no more soup kitchen queues,
No more politics, no more Peterloos.

Charlie watch’d the demolition
With mother, son & wife
From the carcass of his kitchen
Reclaim’d a carving knife
Then pass’d a moment with the stones that wall’d him all his life.



When the fight to kill is ended
You will begin another fight
You, brave fighters
Florence Wilkinson

With the shadow presence of the obscure
A woman pass’d thro Roma Centrale,
Boarding her train unnoticed & demure –
No-one knew she was a Mussolini;
Dress’d all in black,
This grief-heavy widow,
From darkness begging back her beloved Ciano.

Among the riders of that train
An old man recognised her
& told the rest, they tut disdain
Torturing the outsider
It truly was a dreary bane
Bequeath’d by her father –
A legacy shared thro this bitter land,
Stain’d by his blood, shamed by his violent hand.

The train traverses Tuscany,
Beside the fair Arno,
Where galleries are half-empty,
Pick’d by the Nazi crow,
But Italy lives on thro works of Michelangelo.


Grand Palace of Justice

One night of the nights of 1947
A night of medication
Injected into the body of a plagued city
Haim Gouri

Of an empire born & drown’d in crimson,
Naught but wire-zones by conq’rers occupied,
Cigs, soap & shoes fuse with prostitution,
High-browed JUSTICE combing the countryside;
How deft they sought
Those pale, arch-criminals
Array’d in Hitler’s court… evil’s first disciples.

Faced with denouement for their crimes,
These cauterized men appear
As scapegoats for those crazy times,
Televised throughout the year,
Where daily with his honour climb’d
One dashing cavalier
With ever-present energy, Goering,
Still preaching loyally for his darling.

For judgement pluck’d from fearsome well
Of hard-fought opinion,
Harken! Doom bell! The Reichmarshall
Swallows secret poison,
His comrades don the sack… noose… trapdoor… <THWACK>… oblivion…


Berlin Air Drop

After winds and rain
that toppled trees, cobwebs still
cling to the woodpile
Liz Rhodebeck

Into strain’d streets a cool breeze buck’d & blew,
Tho ‘deep in Russia’s sphere of influence
The old Reichscapital is split in two,
Red Army making felt a firm presence;
Blocking the roads
Feeding the Western store
But for the vital loads in skiey corridor.

Our squadron-leader led the way,
In the MIGs on either side
Saw foreign pilots keen for fray
If he but stray’d from his glide
Thro that pale, paltry passageway,
One measly, short mile wide…
But on he flew, lithe Falcon of the sky,
Never fading from duty… Nigel Bligh.

Such schism betwains the Allies,
The world shall cast a frown,
From anxious skies fall safe supplies,
The Soviet backs down,
War oer the Nazi graveyard would be Hitler’s posth’mous crown.


Family & Friends

When press begins the battle-cry
That nation needs to unify
And for your country you must die
Julian Tuwim

Across the dusty bush the long ways wind,
Inside a bus young Danny thought of ‘things,’
His best mate, Slater, mainly on his mind,
The driver drawls, “Welcome to Alice Springs!”
White men mingling
With Aborigine,
Pass’d thro’ him spine-tingling homecoming energy.

He bumm’d a lift in Richie’s Ute,
Went hurtling thro’ the Outback,
Neath powd’ry wheels pink lizards shoot
As the tarmac turn’d to track,
‘Tween rusted shears & gnarly boot
They park’d by Slater’s shack,
“G’day,” says Bruce outstepping from the truck,
Dan shook not human hand, but shook a hook.

They spent the evening downing beer
& reminiscing Shane,
The stars appear, they toast a cheer,
“In sunshine, wind or rain
He ran those bastards ragged!” “That’s my boy!” pride hides his pain.


Jewish Homeland

At your bedside, I feel like someone
who has escaped too lightly
from the great hell of the camps
Elaine Feinstein

As when an absent husband’s footfalls near
The restless, sleepless bed & echo loud
All thro’ an iron house, when wives appear
As naked fields of pleasure to be plough’d;
The promised land,
With its people conjoins,
Hebrew at the news-stands bought by these brand new coins.

The pages of the Exodus
Mirrors to the modern Jews,
Those ictims of witch-hunt purges,
Reviled for sacred values,
Having since the march of Titus
Wander’d Europa’s views,
Millennial persecutions endured,
Until the cause of all those woes here cured.

Anna Grunfeld got off the train
End of the torrid line,
To start again, despite the pain,
Beneath a pure sunshine –
Where after two Millenia Moses views Palestine.


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