Canto 78: Fresh Tensions

America it’s them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad.

Allan Ginsburg


Another Game of Chess

The age of failure of splendid things
The age of the deformity of splendid things
The age of old young men & bitter children
HD Carberry

The North Atlantic enjoin in treaty,
With Benelux the Western bloc is seal’d,
In the face of future hostility
Its signat’ries shall ally in the field;
In bold reply
The Russians have reveal’d
A sky swarming fungi, holy weapon to wield.

From the vast Eurasian heartlands
Went that blast’s solemn echo,
Swept yon the watch-wire rimlands,
Thro’ the corridors of Nato
Back to the secret in the sands
Of Alamogordo;
Thro’ all mankind is sent a sad shudder…
There’ll now be two stood by Doomsday’s rudder.

Stalin thrust forward his H-pawn
When will they be ready?”
An manly yawn, Molotov’s moan
(He sees the mate in three),
“As soon as we can supply systems of delivery.”

Moscow
1949


U.N.

We were made that way,
Made to scatter
Seeds in the furrow
Miguel Angel Asturias

There is a city high upon the hill
Where swollen on notions of high ideal –
Liberty, in all peoples, shall instil
When with a foreign master never kneel;
Unfetter’d grip
Binding man’s destiny;
Indefensible ship of his sovereignty.

The world is glad to hear the birth
Of this United Nations,
Myriad races of this earth
Send eager delegations
To strut like kinsmen round the hearth,
Airing protestations –
Man’s many colours bask in assembly,
Grand semblance of mankind’s maturity.

There comes a hint of bullish tone
These old empires receive
“Give up your throne, the day had grown
When nations do believe
Leaders cannot be foreigners, this fact no man should greive.”

Geneva
1951


The Korean War

This is my land
This is my city
This is the hour
Karl Schembri

So soon… so soon… men once more hear the blast
Of war, once more, how terrible the sound –
America is losing Asia fast,
This ideological battleground
Divided by
A bitter paralel,
Once more the bombers fly, once more the broad guns yell!

Struggle strains the global balance
Now fusion’d with Korea
Whose frothing pool of turbulence
Draws in the thoughts of Russia,
Britain, America & France
While Communist China
Sings songs of civic grandeur proudest sung
Under the guiding tongue of Mao-Tse-Tung!

“Let us avoid another Somme,”
These warmongers aspire,
The passage from trenchfoot to ‘BOMB,’
Lies broken on the wire
Guarded by those United States, chrysopholist empire!

Hyujeonseon
1953


Death of Stalin

What in the body’s tomb doth buried lie
Is boundless; ’tis the spirit of the sky,
Lord of the future, guardian of the past
George Santayana

While hatching plans of ditching Russia’s Jews
In Gulags grim, his last & ghastly whim,
A life of drinking drains a body’s fuse,
His doctors afear’d even to touch him;
Bright morning sun
Lights rooftop Muscovy,
For him forever gone this nevermore shall see.

The Devil & his Grandmother
Blend with the loyal people,
Unopporobrious enigma
Of his feted funeral,
Despite intolerant terror;
Largely responsible
For forty million dead citizens –
& all those lads slain by the Nazi guns.

What hordes of terracottan rows
To this procession came,
From steppe & snows, to stop & pause
By monster, death-still, tame;
Extensional subordinates of an unearthly fame.

Moscow
1953


Blood-Ties

The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.
Yet beautiful and bright he stood
Felicia Dorothea Hemans

By sleeper train the war-haunted Constance
Traverses southern plains of Germany,
A mind confused left miles behind in France,
His family but half a family;
One letter read
So much the folds were torn,
The man he thought was dead alive & all alone.

He steps in from the busy street
To see a portly butcher,
What moment when the boy shall greet
The man that is his father,
Max turns around, puts down his meat,
Sees another Stemmler;
“Guten Tag!” utter’d in broken German,
“Guten tag,” a pause, “Herr, I am your son…”

They close the shop & take a walk,
Four decades of suspense
Allay’d in talk, at this fair fork,
Two rivers confluence…
Aimee’s fair smile, Der Fuhrer & the death of innocence.

Donauwurth
1953


Viet Minh

Like reared stones around a grave
They stand around the King ;
Then suddenly each seiz’d his spear
William Blake

Some to the wars to try their fortunes there,
In Indo-China Ho Chi Minh arise,
Still the Frenchman wears his arrogant air,
Not knowing what lies ‘neath the slanty-eyes;
This ‘Republic’
Scoff’d at as bon hommes pour
Into a fresh conflict, but grand unfinish’d war.

Thro trees surrounding Dien Bien Phu
Men equipt by the Chinese,
Those Viet Minh, a ragged crew,
Close the distance by degrees,
Steel thunders blew airstrips askew,
The foe starv’d to les knees,
Eighty thousand parachutes cloak the ground,
“Zey ‘as no wheels, ‘ow do zey move around?”

Paris once had an Empire here
& now Paris has none,
In flight & fear they disappear,
The Uncle’s war is won,
Freeing his race from servitude looks Southwards to Saigon.

Hanoi
1954


Arms Race

What if you came back now
To our new world, the city roaring
There on the old peaceful camping place
Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Desirable of Peace prepare for War;
The march of arms in place, Stalin’s last wish
“Match these American efforts, & more,
As when the Kaiser outsail’d the English!”
Dream science burns,
The first Hydrogen bomb
Well-tested & upturns the equilibrium.

Starvations as vast treasuries
Drain on dwindling billions,
Zhukov forges awesome armies
Moujik many millions,
As to the conquest of the sea
Go monstrous galleons,
While ready to unload Mankind’s first fear
Long-range bombers patrol the pearly sphere.

Supplicants bow to Moscow’s pact,
Forming an Eastern Bloc,
If one attack’d, by brothers back’d
& murdering amok
When mach-ballistic missiles will unleash the vengeant shock.

Warsaw
1955


Siberia

You laugh, laugh, laugh, & never say
a single word. How do I stand it?
I plead. You laugh, I plead again
Strato

Forgotten far beyond the icy Ob
In gulags choked with undesirables,
Shabby ghosts for emancipation sob,
Those thin-faced exiles of many peoples;
Altho’ the war
Fading from memory
Still no-one would restore their human dignity.

A screeching siren rang across
This stark & freezing wasteland,
In stagger’d human dustbin dross,
Spoons splint’ring in trembling hand,
This meal of theirs seem’d more a loss
As thinning porridge pann’d
Barely continued the half existence,
At last! One hero dares sow resistance…

Upon a flimsy raft they float,
Keeping the cold at bay
With stolen coat, they cross’d the moat,
Facing an Arctic grey
They set foot South for India three thousand miles away.

Vorkuta
1957


Suez Crisis

I sit & wait a pair of oars
On cis-Elysian river-shores.
Where the immortal dead have sate
RL Stevenson

Cairo has hosted French & British arms –
El Alamein, La Napoleonade –
Nasser seizes the Suez from both palms,
That vein of empire ninety in the shade;
Defiant throats
By global voices back’d,
Marines fill up the boats, the harbour is attack’d.

By helicopter troops are flown
Dust covers the area
As into heated battle blown
The gut-pigs of the sniper,
Machine guns rattle, grenades thrown,
O deadly theatre!
While within earshot of this hot battle
Block ships are sunk & cut off the canal!

“This war is wrong, put down thy gun,
March from the battleground!”
Cries Washington, “Else face sanction,
Our banks shall sell the pound…”
The Auld Entente forced to withdraw, its pride by weakness drown’d!

Port Said
1956

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