Canto 69: Crush of War

All is ruin’d, for fire & the headlong God of War
Speeding in a Syrian chariot shall bring you low.
Many a tower shall he destroy, not yours alone,
While over the roof-tops black blood runs streaming

Aristonice


Battle of France

Generations after you,
‘Neath the red, the white, the blue,
They shall reap what you have sown
JH Wilson

Felix Crimin’bus non erit hoc diu;
The Allies press on to the Sequana;
The Stars & Stripes, the Jack, the Tricolor,
Fluttering with Liberation’s ardour;
Shaven the pate,
Collaboratrices,
Receive a four-year hate splasht cross angry faces.

Grand offensive bogs down & gropes
Thro’ the Bocage chequerboard,
Round Kalvarienburg’s red slopes
Deadlock blunts the Saxon sword,
Tho’ outmann’d, outgunn’d, ‘gin the ropes,
From airways slash’d & claw’d,
The Wehrmacht fight with heart so bold & big
As with the master after pass’d Leipzig.

A token force of six Tigers
Met fifty times their size,
What warriors forged in Russia’s
Rough fields of snow & flies,
No matter, tis certaincy they’ll be snuff’d out from the skies.

Villiers Bocage
June 13th
1944


Death in the Jungle

Devoid of desire or music or joy
but lying forever morose
till death takes me unawares
Donnchadh MaRaoiridh

Having swapp’d one prison for another
Slater conducts a bloody one-man war,
Slaughtering patrols, breaking for cover,
As septic sores from weak, white blood cells pour;
His makeshift camp
Sees revenge deliver’d,
Where fixing an old lamp his whole body shiver’d.

He knew that his life was slipping
So thought about his father,
Sweaty rivulets e’er dripping
Til slain by Malaria,
Thro his bloated, blue corpse ripping
Cometh Calliphora…
Attracted by a quiet, scratching sound
Some giant Sloth, three days aft, sniffs around.

She sinks her teeth, the body warm,
Its brittle, black flesh splits,
O see them worm, O feel them squirm,
Awful trove of maggots,
The Sloth coughs up her rotten meat, nose-snorting as she flits.

Thailand
June
1944


Doodlebug

Those days of stagnancy & cloudy threat
when the sky is silver yet quite lustreless,
where shall we turn in our indifference?
Attilo Bertolucci

The grand Nazi plan was less grand than deem’d;
From sites diminish’d by the Allied bomb,
Pilotless ballistics strataward stream’d
To shatter London & her saintly Dom;
The Blitz returns,
Death-tipp’d eagles flying,
Once more a city burns, more good sorts are dying.

From heaven-scented Calverly
Caroch’d Air Marshall Dowding,
Gaea’s golden serenity
Burst by th’ear-splitting roaring
Of some Vee-One’s hostility,
Bent on mindless killing,
It seem’d to laugh flashing above his head,
Towing a spitfire with determin’d tread.

Poised neck & neck, tipp’d wing-to-wing,
Perform’d a graceful tilt,
Wise unhinging… missile spinning
To corn fields at full hilt,
A ruthless killer thwarted, it’s quest’s nemesis well built.

Kent
June 16th
1944


 Soviet Advances

Over the garden the moon’s tide tumbles;
Shrubs are shaken by gusts and tremblings;
Pathways ribbon with sudden dissemblings
Marie Under

Hitler has led his Greater Germany
To caddling nightmares of a three-front war,
What strength defends his eastern ‘victory,’
While barest handfuls guard the Norman shore;
From post to post
A rigid, nail’d defence;
The Allied army toasts such frigid martial sense.

What courage follows for the fight
In the Feste Platze fortresses,
Without water, hope & daylight,
Led by brainless officers,
Roll’d over by the Russian might,
Leaving pale sepulchres
Of dead & dying, hear their sorry pleas –
A young Thuringen begs on bleeding knees…

…Alas his pity-pleas ignor’d,
Prefers, Konstantin, force,
So draws his sword, anger outpour’d
Treading the darker course,
From ear-to-ear he calmly cut that throat without remorse.

Byellorussia
June 22nd
1944


Burmese Box

I shall murder if I can,
Spill the jellies of a man.
Or be luckless & be spilled
John Ciardi

The leopards of the kirimon inhale
The blooming scentbuds of Paulownia;
The British batter hatches at Imphal,
Imperil’d at the gates of India,
There, Vera Lynn
Inspires the men with song –
As oer barge-chok’d Khyendwen fanatics press the prong.

Banzais hurtle thro’ vine-twine trees,
Under a shell-storm’s raining,
Encroaching forth by slow degrees,
Their promis’d land sustaining,
Until they meet that swarm of bees,
Those Hindoomen that sting,
When in a flash of death Nippon convuls’d
Across flesh-tinted Kohima, repuls’d.

A state of humid siege surrounds
Mounds of long-spent cases,
Persistance pounds the killing grounds,
Dirty, lurid faces
Of remnants limping back to camp, rifles bent for crutches.

Burma
June 22nd
1944


Angel of Death

The difficult tolerance of all that is
Mere rigid brute routine; the odd
Sardonic scorn of desolate self-pity
Alun Lewis

Cut by the bleeding edge of academe,
The Hitler-oath outweighing his to health,
Around vile work wild mussitators scream
Warnings unheard; by seizure or by stealth
He pricks & plots
Thro’ pseudosciences,
Hanging raw bibelots from claw’d appliances.

Repugnancies eugenical,
Dissections of chilling zeal,
Fresh eyeballs by the barrowful
Thro’ a cast of thousands wheel,
Experiments nonsensical,
Inhumanoid ordeal,
Labagonies commuted with a tick,
Off to the chambers with her! Quick! Quick! Quick!”

He starves a newborn baby girl
‘Til a loving mother
Looks on her pearl, brushes soft curl,
Kisses with a smother –
Sufferings unburdening, a murder like no other.

Auschwitz
July
1944


Bomb Plot

In the walls their windows staring blindly back,
And even the thatch itself was rotted black.
All was ruins, grown old; here death had come crawling.
Maksim Bahdanovič

Noblesse oblige, when duty outranks praise,
Stauffenburg slips his oath’s constrictive grip,
Mindful of Mankind’s most valorous days,
He dares to strike at his dictatorship –
Not at the tail,
Aft’ which ye face the bite,
But thro’ the hissing veil the head conjures in fright.

He stepp’d into the conf’rence room,
Hitler glances curt, “Hello!”
The situation maps cry doom…
He placed his briefcase calm & low
Near Hitler’s feet, as sly as fume
This Colonel, quick yet slow,
Takes his leave, when driving thro’ the compound,
He made no flinch as bomb-blast wrenches sound.

Midst the Fuhrerhauptquartier’s
Dull rubble’s wracken rush,
Shredded trousers, shirt in tatters,
Hair tangl’d toilet brush,
“Fate has saved me, I now decree such treachery we crush!”

Wolf’s Lair
July 20th
1944


Betrayals

Anger lay by me all night long,
His breath was hot upon my brow,
He told me of my burning wrong
Elizabeth Daryush

What emotion transforms man to Judas?
Of all heartaches it must be Jealousie;
Constance leads the Gestapo with a hiss
To the old farm own’d by his family;
Watching th’embrace
At an upstairs window,
Taut pulls the jeune-tinged face as lonely torments grow.

The sound of jackboots on the stair
& rough Teutonic clamour
Drove Veronique to clutch Pierre
With full zest of her amour…
The door burst ope, this noble pair
Shied captivity’s floor,
Shooting those shapes daring to enter room,
Pierre leapt on the sly stick grenades <BOOM>…

She groan’d & rose, saw her soul’s mate
Sprawl’d lifeless where he died,
Dusts dissipate, before too late
She tried her suicide…An empty… CLICK… down by her hair ‘Der Bitch!’ is dragg’d outside.

France
July 29th
1944


Revolt

war raged and found profit in colonial lands!
war raged and killed babies in their cradles!
war raged, and destroyed cultural values
Usman Awang

Stalin urges his sister Slaves to rise;
A city still in ruin since its fall –
Sad emblem of defeat, but not demise
Eternal flies the soul that moulds the Pole;
Fresh hope talk balms,
As Russian tanks draw near,
The citizens take arms, abandoning all fear.

This War’s grey incunabula
Erupted to no avail,
For ruthless, fuel-full Luftwaffe
Dowse belief with lethal hail,
While watching on biovular
Those sister-Slavs derail
The plan; yon the suburbs tanks sat idle;
Stalin, uncompassion’d, at the bridle.

The Nazis reaffirm their grip,
Unleash a savage hate,
This sinking ship, this rubbish tip,
The Poles evacuate,
& shuffle ragfeet to the west, cursing their country’s fate.

Warsaw
August
1944


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