Canto 55: Explosion

The soldiers fight & the kings are heroes

Talmud


American Opinion

It is imminent; in the sudden smell
of wet grass and stir among the frangipani,
in the straight tense fence-posts in half-light
Wong Phui Nam

Rita clocks off another working day
Making deadly accoutrements of War,
Collected her ever-increasing pay,
Then nipp’d in for a whiskey down Hank’s Bar;
Conversation
Deepens at the refill,
“I did not raise my son just to die for Churchill!”

“I fought,” said Hank, “In Flanders’ mire,
Back in Nineteen Seventeen,
Pull’d Britain’s chestnuts from the fire
In scenes like ya’ve never seen,
Just so that lousy old Empire
Remains our global queen!”
A tear slipp’d from the corner of his eye,
“Y’know I saw a lotta good men die.”

She drains the glass, gush’d from her core,
“God bless America!”
Walks thro’ the door to Ned’s new store,
There buys a newspaper,
Front pages dominated by sour-face Mister Hitler!

Jerkwater
December 6th
1941


Pearl Harbour

Sometimes I fly at dawn above the sea,
Where, underneath, the restless waters flow—
Silver, and cold, and slow
Paul Bewsher

Sol’s portal rose Impayen from silk sea,
Illumes a rain-thrash’d fleet thro’ morning mist,
Upon the flat-top of the Akagi
Yamamoto crushes pearl in fist;
World-airwaves fill,
“Tora-Tora-Tora!”
Instreaming for the kill, screaming, “The Emperor!”

They burst on battleships in rows
Like Samurai hard charging,
Swin-streaking swordfin torpedoes,
Underneath the whizzing wing
An awful & unlawful show,
Noble ships exploding,
Day of Lusitanian proportions,
Flys everywhence across the world’s oceans.

“KERWHOOM!” The West Virginia
Joins the sunken others,
Oklahama, Arizona –
But not the carriers –
Thro’ chance or fate, steaming at sea, peacef’ly on manoeuvres!

Hawaii
December 6th  1941
08.15


First Strike

You have blown out beauty
with a breath, torn her,
dealt her the death-wound
Salvatore Quasimodo

Barb’d hornets flew all over Ohau,
In lethal waves obsessing for the kill,
Too slowly the realisation grew,
“We are being attack’d! This is no drill!”
Amidst the hell
That burnt at Hitcham Field
A Yankee gave a yell behind a Browning shield.

This all-American hero,
While pals hugg’d nearby ditches,
Spread lead, fed with deadly gung-ho,
Ya yella sons of bitches!”
A cracking shot plunged some Zero
Into football pitches,
Crash-landing & smashing into a post,
“Goddam! That slant-eyed mother fucker’s toast!”

With the morning’s carnage over,
With no more death to spread,
Each warrior – in good order –
Atop the white wave sped,
Leaving Hawaii belching smoke & Hirohitan dead.

The Pacific Ocean
December 7th 1941
09.30


America Goes to War

A million, ten million, singing, “I am ready.”
This the sun looks on between two seaboards,
In the land of Lincoln, in the land of Grant & Lee
Carl Sandburg

Thin veil of snow covers the capital,
A little ice drifts on the Potomac,
An all together pageant of wonderful,
Oblivious to enemy attack;
Dines Rooseveldt
Inside those Whitehouse walls,
The perfidy hard felt, the murdering apalls.

News-tickers read the deed aloud,
What words to be receiving,
Rude shock electrifies the crowd
Jaws dropping disbelieving,
A father’s tear slips sad & proud,
Portending his grieving…
Deep in the Dustbowl Carlton park’d his car
To race into the kitchen babbling ‘Ma!

Ma! Where are you?”‘ About the farm
The workers gets the gist,
“Don’t join the army, boy, stay calm,”
“But Ma, I must enlist!”
She tried to soothe him with soft hands, but strokes a pearl-clench fist.

Jerkwater
December 7th
1941


The Reward Of Patience

We that so glory in your high decision,
So trust your goal;
All Europe in our blood, but yours our vision
ES Swift

Face sighing stern, lips draining brandy glass,
Marlborough’s blood congealing for the fight,
Depress’d with this unpleasant presentness,
No way to win the Wars at all in sight;
Blimp from dinner,
Cheeks half-cock’d all aglow,
He gestures his butler fetch in the radio…

As he twiddl’d with his diamonds
Tun’d to service with a clink
“… attack’d the Hawaiian islands…”
Splash, spit, splurt, out burst his drink,,
“All the tides & all the oceans,
Dare this be what I think?”
By private line he reach’d the President –
To serve his hopes, it seem’d, an angel sent.

“God be with you!” how civilly
Men end a friendly call
His boyish glee vees victory,
So we’ve won after all…
Now Hitler’s fate is seal’d,” he utters with a sterner drawl.

London
December 7th
1941


World War

Hurry, oh fast-flying Time, fly more quickly!
In my new armour I faint, I am choking.
I shall alight, with Death holding my stirrup
Mikhail Lermontov

Rommel is retreating to Gazala,
Barbarossa nears annihilation,
Closing net sets Hitler to the ponder,
Torn open by timely escalation;
With vital blow
An ally ne’er vanquish’d
Has ridden to the show in ways he would have wish’d.

Summoning the Reichstag android
Rose Hitler, virulently,
“We cannot this world war avoid –
The responsibility
Of that half-Judaiz’d, negroid,
Capitalist country!
Standing side-by-side with the Emperor,
I have declared against America!”

Whistle claque joy demonstrated
A twinge shook Goering’s gut,
Long-awaited, ever-fated,
The nightmare nailing shut,
A Reichmarshall woe-whispering, “Now Deautschland is kaput!”

Berlin
December 11th
1941


Resettlement

Stooping in solemn grief, down the muddy trek
Moves the sad cortege. The scrawny little nag
Slowly draws the hearse, stretching its long neck
Vojislav Ilić

The Star of Poland, stitch’d in yellow band,
Marks the arm of every human Jew,
That on the pack’d platform with Grunfelds stand –
A cattle wagons clatter into view;
Peasant & Priest
Into that cramm’d space sent,
Trains lurching to the East, towards resettlement.

As frightful freights of pity flow,
Desperation stagnates air,
One welcome smile softens the blow,
Waited Jakob calmly there,
To lead them thro’ a grey ghetto,
A flat for all to share –
Two rooms & one tiny lavatory
To serve his reunited family.

Nikki slipp’d to the ghetto wall,
The sign ‘Verboten’ said,
Chasing the roll of her wee ball,
The sentry shot her dead…
Wailing kinah to side & sheloshim the Grunfelds sped.

Warsaw
December
1941


Sunrise

The sun that in the East does rise
Drapes clouds with golden gown,
O’er seas and peaks it sails the skies
Bernhard Severin Ingemann

The ‘Repulse’ & the ‘Prince of Wales’ full steam
From Singapore, oriental sapphire,
Purveyors of the frangipani dream,
Unsinkable crow-keepers of empire;
But as they skulk
By Zero’s set upon
Turning them both to hulk… to bubbles… & then gone.

From Cathay down to Mandalay
From the Kotan surf to Guam
Bold orb burst with a roaring ray
Over colonial calm,
Cheap stars of tin hacking sharp way
With masterful sword arm,
Lit by the waxen fury of those rays
Th’entire Western Pacific set ablaze.

As set of stars Basho commands
Has roll’d in on the tide,
A legion lands upon the sands,
With gladness in their stride,
Soldiers advancing gladly as their captains burst with pride.

Malaya
December 10th
1941


Death of Khan Stemmler

He said to us, his eyes like candles,
“Men! Isn’t Moscow there behind us?
Let’s die for Moscow now
Mikhail Lermontov

All across the front the counter-strikes start,
Spurr’d on by vengeance, Stalin & Smirnoff,
It seems as if the ghosts of Bonaparte
Have fled the cannonades of Kutuzov;
Adolf aghast,
Thin hair afleck with grey,
“The army will stand fast, we must not fight like Ney!”

Footed firm with heavy losses
Germans slow the grand Russian,
But now invincible hubris
Defeated to depression,
Like Sargon’s curs’d calamiities
With the Kullumaean…
Without his fingers, toes & half-a-nose
Khan staggers lifelorn thro the drifting snows.

CRACK! CRACK! He falls awrith with pain,
Snow red-stain’d where he bled,
The warm breaths wane, the bloody mane
Of some befang’d wolfshead
Brushes his cheek, rips out his throat… today the pack well fed.

Russia
Christmas Day
1941

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