Canto 52: Whirlpool

With the same spirit which governs our actions at home
We wish to establish our relations abroad

Adolf Hitler


Balkan Conquest

The winter fly I spared
Was captured by
the cat
Issa

As when she join’d the Kaiser’s sorry fight
Bulgaria bedazzl’d by Berlin,
Selling her soul to please the Tripartite,
This time a greater Germany must win;
When midst the pack
Howl with the wolves ye must,
Fears of frightful attack worse than the bite none trust.

& so the Yugoslavian?
Forg’d from sterner spiritus,
Born of the loins of horseback Khan
& the daughters of Hellas,
Harden’d to war by Suleiman
& Turkish scimitars?
Have found their prince, thro’ promise threat & bribe,
Tying their limping realm to Hitler’s tribe.

The bad news filters through land,
The lust for battle calms,
Large armies standing down, disband,
Surrending their arms,
But for those buried in the woods or hidden in the farms.

Yugoslavia
March
1941


Family Tradition

Look, one war giving birth to another
one war crawling out from between the
legs of another, out of the rubble
Warsan Shire

Bruce Slater struggled with the tractor key,
His right arm nigh useless without a hand
Whose bones lie pick’d clean at Gallipoli,
Buried up Anzac Cove, under its sand;
Then came on his
Son Shane with feisty spring,
“Pop, back down in Alice, the army’s recruiting!”

Tough silence overcame the scene,
Roughly broken by Bruce spit,
Altho’ these moments long foreseen,
His Heart-strings still twinge a fit
& tho’ his barely barely nineteen,
“Go son, go do your bit!”
Shane whoop’d with joy, hugg’d his tann’d father,
That night they tuck’d in the Bush together.

The fire crackles as the stars
Lights sprinkle thro’ the murk,
They talk of wars, Bruce shows the scars
Inflicted by the Turk…
“Son, soldiery is one days fighting for five weeks of work.”

Northern Territory
March
1941


Operation Retribution

In rejected heaps by a monotonous road
The old simple delights were left to lie
On the wasteland of life’s descent to night
Sri Aurobindo

To rebel war the devil ne’er could win,
The Yugoslavic spirit pensive push’d,
“Before we set the hounds upon Stalin,”
Hiss’d Hitler,  “upstart yokels must be crush’d;”
Crucial delay?
Or insignificant?
To mid-June from mid-May his ‘Barbarossa’ went.

War shall expand it’s theatre,
Ira furor brevis est,
Russia’s borders yiedling panzer,
Infantry peels from the West,
Goering prepares his Luftwaffe,
While restless Budapest
Hugs Hitler’s Janissarian legions
With men & arms, lording oer the Balkans.

Belgrade receives a Stukan lay,
The reeling Serbs take flight,
Melting away, some other day
Continuing the fight,
Tito spitting at swastikas flitting into the night.

Yugoslavia
March
1941


Birth & Death of Brian Davies

Who are you and where do you come from?
You have killed my mother, father
Even my brothers and sisters
Patricia Mercy

How joyous when a newborn cries its first
Now sucking glibly on its mother’s teat,
His father’s swelling pride in bells shall burst,
Life understanding life ne’er seem’d more sweet;
Wild sirens sound,
Death soars in from abroad,
Bombs battering the ground along the old Mill Road.

What did you think of life, my child,
Before that bad bomb’s striking?
Thy little ward all whitely tiled
I hope was to thy liking,
Murmurs of conversation mild
Spear’d by tearful scriking,
With that warm milk you seem’d to quite enjoy
For those few minutes, you & Lawrence Foy.

“Ee-ya, la! They’ve bomb’d nan’s chip-shop!”
“Bloody, bastard fokkers!”
Kill-spheres still drop, caught on the hop,
Huskisson’s poor dockers –
But most of all slain babies names remain e’ermore to shock us.

Liverpool
May 4th
1941


Rudolf Hess

you try to examine
if it is the food that is stale
or the stomach that is sick
Baleka Kgositsile

Dreams of walking England’s tapestried halls,
Two famous Nordic nations to unite,
Waking, now a burning impulse controls,
Taking a Messerschmitt in solo flight
Across the sea
To Scotland’s rugged shores,
Bales out, floats prettily oer heather-coated moors.

Hess was captured by a hayfork,
& prodded to the station,
You must allow me, please, to talk
With the Duke of Hamilton…”
Churchill puff’d out his cigar smoke,
“This bizarre peace mission
Must never be permitted to prevail,
We’ll fob him off & let him rot in jail.”

Torrid bombshell fell on Hitler,
The mad Reich ‘Number Two’
Made prisoner, squealing anger,
“His mind must be cuckoo…
I’m surrounded by idiots!” the air turn’d black & blue.

The Berghof
May 10th
1941


Ethiopia

Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
David Diop

A rugged patriot with fuzzy hair
Stood waiting for his moment to defy
Those traces of mustard gas lacing air,
& raising his rifle, let loose a cry;
Halle’s kingdom
Echoes ten thousand fold,
Hoisting hearts for freedom, to break Benito’s hold.

Colonel Wingate answers the call,
Crackling with warrior zen,
Beside the Blue Nile’s canyon roll
Marches his gallant Queensmen,
Into their steps brave tribesmen fall
From secret mountain den –
Guerrillaring, together, cleverly,
Destroying an outwitted enemy.

Across all Abyssinia
Generalissimo
Suits surrender… on white charger
Wingate, in triumph’s glow
Trots ‘tween the eucalyptus in the shade of Antoto.

Addis Ababba
May 20th
1941


Bismark

It was a macabre song
like the chipped tooth in the sink,
like the handcuffed man stumbling
Luis Enrique Belmonte

At last the target ventures out to sea,
The Sister of the Graf Spree & Tirpitz,
Queen of that unsinkable trinity,
Enough to give any sailor the shits;
Making contact,
Cutting her teeth in blood,
As furious attack’d sunk is the shell-shock’d Hood.

The loss of a capital ship
Strikes the English to the core,
Responding lets her engines rip
As a hundred men of war
Converge upon the last known blip –
& sights her to the fore;
& with the Home Fleet hurtles shells thro’ air,
The target wisely turns for St Nazaire,

But a lucky hull-breach slows her,
Bombarded from afar,
The Dorsetshire administers,
The toothy coup-de-gras,
Sad sailors leaping into waves deep swallowing a star.

Atlantic Ocean
May 28th
1941


Classical Debacle

Say Crete, & there is little more to tell
Of muddle tall as treachery, despair
And black defeat resounding like a bell
John Manifold

Crete raptures like a classical antique
For dread Persophone in springly lust,
Protected by Britisher, Anzac, Greek,
With ad hoc weapons rescued from the rust;
Their foe flies by,
Sky blossoms, gliders glide,
A withering reply, whole sqaudrons crucified.

By Kiwis Malleme airfield held
Beneath relentless Junkers
Gliding to land, shot at & shell’d,
Turning burning wreckages,
Yet cobra-strike contents expell’d –
Hardmen mountain troopers –
Manhandling blocks of heavy weaponry
Tipping the balance back to victory!

As Wermacht westward rolls thro’ Crete,
The Commonwealth withdraw,
One more retreat, one more defeat,
No way to wage a war,
As once again hungry half-men pluck’d from a foreign shore.

Sfakia
May 30th
1941


The Agony of France

Courage, my soul ! now to the silent wood
Alone we wander, there to seek our food
In the wild fruits, & woo our dreamless sleep
P.E. More

The French welcome the Nazi supermen,
Preferring peace to resistance & pain,
Tho’ alters rare, amid occupation,
Bare secretly the cross of lost Lorraine;
Shining spirit
Of old Ambriorix
Repugnant in the spit of one imperatrix.

“Nazi batardes!” Veronique curs’d,
Stubbing out her cigarette,
“They rape our country &, what’s worse,
Les cochons fou have raped Annette!
Somebody has to be the first
To challenge that mind-set,
We must form an arm’d group for resistance!”
“Domain…reviens dormir,” whisper’d Constance.

Slipping graceful to her lover,
Tongue-probing lust to share
‘Tween the covers, like a glove her
Man thrust his hands down there,
& tho’ her pantings sweet her soul was longing for Pierre.

Orleans
June 11th
1941

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