Canto 64: Underbelly

I cannot, I do not wish to die.
I love life – I love this grass, this earth, this air

Tolstoy


Rejuvenations

Death’s iron tongue is glib
Numbing with fear all flesh upon
A fiery-hearted globe
C.Day Lewis

Moscow’s Bears awake from hibernation,
Claws sharpen’d for coming reconquista,
Azazelian annhialation,
Torrents from a horrent-arm’d ballista;
Stalin demands
Eevry god-damn german
Expel’d is from his lands, or rots there in the sun.

Altho’ they knew the war was lost,
& drown’d in diarreah,
Each man morphs to a sturdy schloss
To fight on for Der Fuhrer,
An iron or a wooden cross,
Loyally together,
For if great Germany wins not the war,
What else in life is there worth living for?

From Smolensk to Sevastapol
The Wehrmacht, on the rack,
Bred in battle deadly skillful,
Are daily pulling back,
Bursting each mouse-trap circle thro’ exfiltrative attack.

 U.S.S.R
September
1943


War’s Shadow

I know not, ah! sweet streams, despair of knowing
When I shall come again; for as I go,
And ponder why, ye fill me with such woe
Luis Vaz de Camoes

Armour’d car swept up the serpentine road
Of the mount of Saint Benedict’s abbey,
General steps out, clutching silver sword,
Eyes saccading oer the Liri Valley;
A position
Ruling wide area,
“They must take it before Casilina…”

Boot nails echoed round the cloisters
Where stood Dom Gregorio,
Flank’d by seven very pious
Monks of Montecassino,
“To stay here would be dangerous…”
“No! no! we cannot go!”
“Very well, but may I suggest, promptly,
Transport thy treasures for safe sanctuary.”

They placed gold-laced legatura,
Corali, tapestries,
Mellin, Conca, Solimena,
& bibles in lorries;
Each guarded by two monks driven to Roman galleries.

Italy
October 16th
1943


A Game of Chess

I know now how life is cheap as dirt,
And still the hungry, angry heart
Hangs on & howls, biting at air.
Howard Nemerov

The workers spent their hard-earn’d half an hour
Gather’d around blindfolded Botvinik,
Barely exercising his chess power,
Beating some patzer with a knight’s fork trick;
Purposeful cough
Disturbs the ego show,
He takes the blindfold off, a message from Moscow!

As foreman perused the pages
Of that amazing letter,
“It seems, Mikhael, you are famous,
No more a mere sheet cutter,
With you lies Russia’s fate in chess
When the war is over…”
“Yes,” said Botvinik “a war we shall win…”
Nobody there dared doubt his knowing grin.

As he work’d upon the Dragon,
Sharp Yugoslav Attack,
White’s H pawn on the sixth… “White’s won…
What’s this?” An exchange sac –
Forth, with furious energy, forces explode for black.

The Ural
October
1943


Irma Greese

people are not good to each other
people are not good to each other
people are not good to each other
Charles Bukowski

As iron clang rang Five AM apelle
The Strafkommando’s punishment detail
Was hers today, she’ll make this day like hell –
Into the wagon went them, weak & pale;
Beyond Auschwitz,
Thro’ fields of fat & stout
Beside the piles & pits Greese hisses, “Out! Out! Out!”

To the sounds of falling timber,
& the break of brittle bones,
Overseering all September,
Lumping logs & hauling stones,
She would drift off & remember
Last night’s eloping moans
With Doctor Mengele, beside his fire;
She succubus, him breathless with desire.

Her callous zeal was recogniz’d,
Rank-ascent rewarded,
Deftly devis’d deaths she disguis’d
As work widely applauded
For in such supraheathen days, evil brides are lauded.

Auschwitz
October 1943


The Swiss Role

There is delight in singing, tho’ none hear
Beside the singer : & there is delight
In praising, tho’ the praiser sits alone
WS Landor

Shrugging danger away with hearty laugh
For the heart of France brave Monsieur Holland
Risks godless torture for to photograph
These strange sites that somehow concern England;
Blueprints hidden
Within a sack of spuds
& fresh disguise woven – a cutter from the woods.

Rolls of barb’d wire the border close,
Switzerland shuns Vichy France,
Grey guards pass by, the tension grows,
Michel dashes at his chance,
But caught by wolfhound, on its nose
Punches firm annoyance,
Then thro the jagged barbs he cuts a path,
To reach his adventure’s safe aftermath.

He cursed the city’s atmosphere
Burgeoning with profits,
The Jewish fear left great wealth here,
Substantial deposits –
Accounts not to be honour’d without death certificates.

Zurich
October
1943


Savage Rape

Look how rough & coarse my fingers are!
I dug ditches close to the city, hammered
together rough coffins
Ol’ga Berggol’ts

“At last! At last! The bastards are going
& we shall know freedom!” sings Christina,
All round evacuation full flowing,
Rejoiceful, she turn’d the calm road’s corner;
But froze, face grey,
Four soldiers hanging there,
Into an alleyway they dragg’d her by the hair.

The spittle spat with hate & spite,
Lashing out with fist & tongue,
For love of life she put up fight,
But of course they were too strong
& raped her thro’ the dead of night,
None of them thought it wrong
To throw her barely breathing in a bin…
Next morning found by frantic Konstantin.

By now those Germans were long gone
& there his mother died,
An old Russian gave him a gun,
Clutch’d tightly as he cried,
“I shall avenge my family!” such hate to rage inside.

Kiev
November 6th
1943


Blood Scishm

Why are you so cold?
& why do you lie with your eyes shut?-
You are not very old
Stevie Smith

This lunatic age” sighs Friedrich Stemmler
Battling elesovetskies tooth & nail,
Will kill us all…” “Silence!” roars his father,
“The Fuhrer is the one who shall prevail!”
“But I have heard
Such horrors of the East,
To win this war absurd, our armies are deceas’d.”

“Hitler shall make right everything!”
“But Herr Hitler’s a buffoon!”
“Say one more word & I shall bring
The Gestapo to this room”
“Max! What the hell are you saying?”
This man was not her groom,
“Cover yourself in shame – he is your son!”
Huff-fac’d Max puff’d off, rough with what he’d done.

Perhaps, perhaps, Friedrich was right,
But how, how could this be?”
They sat that night, silent, polite,
United family,
“Father, they are recruiting for backwater Normandy.”

Berlin
November 1943


Intellectual Rebellion

I tore down my thoughts
roped in my nightmares
remembered a thousand curses

Ishmael Reed

Despite enosomanian mis-state,
Some hear for certain, some the truth yet speak;
Enlighten’d few, refusing malform’d fate,
Take supper with Von Moltke every week;
Form’d to allay
The Brown Plague that renews
Its bloodbath every day, with vodka, hock & views.

As the field hare from a spaniel
Whips & darts, discussions flow,
Armies without a general,”
States Von Stauffenberg, quite slow,
“Become unoperational…”
“Assassination?”No!”
Von Moltke burst, “Hitler & his party
Must live to bare responsibility!”

To muse on Germany’s defeat
Strictly is forbidden,
But minds here meet as chaffless wheat,
Open hearts unhidden,
Share thoughts of tower’d ivory in stately-lidded den.

Kreisau
November
1943


Savage Battle

Ayla feels
that this start of the new day
is the end of the world

Gelu Vlaşin

As tho’ sailing on dreamy manoeuvres,
The majesty of air-space deem’d complete,
Protected by twelve aircraft carriers
America has launched a battle fleet
At the Gilberts,
Where surged the young marine,
Tween cool volcanic spurts yclad in em’rald green.

Lush saplings rush in from the sea
& plung’d into the cauldron,
Tho’ courageous mamertini
They moulder’d by the dozen,
Boys screaming out “Mommy! Mommy!”
Held pendulous chaudron…
Safe only in the space where Amtrak rolls
Unless, above them, snipers in the boles.

The twin-cylinder’d flamethrower
Blazes holes & trenches,
No surrender, “The Emporer!”
Such a grisly business,
Barely a handful faced disgrace, rest are sable corpses.

Tarawa
November 20th
1943

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