Category Archives: Act 2

Canto 35: Rising Tensions

We are made wiser by the age

Erasmus


Hakenkruz

The day’s last sun-rays burn wonderfully
On the evening sand,
At the beginning of the unknown night
Farrukh Ahmad

As little boys listen to their mothers
With dewdrop eyes, an Austrian sat down
Above his home, “Quite unlike the others,”
Schoolmasters said, as now, far from the town,
Mind-implings soar,
Flame-licking phantasie,
What momentary awe, when on the monast’ry

Rose Benedictine coat of arms,
O salient swastika!
Draping an artist in its charms,
Such enigmatic aura…
Alarum wildfires thro’ the farms,
“Alois needs a doctor!”
His son runs home… stunn’d & numb from crying,
Adolf Hitler watch’d his father’s dying.

The haemorrhage was flowing fast,
The doctors did no good,
Breathing its last a body cast
Its soul to fiery flood,
The daddy of a daemon-child besotted by fresh blood.

Linz
1903


Morrocan Stand-Off

Clouds or waves? Waves or clouds
I hardly know – so high
The face of the sea seems mounted up
Mabuchi

Global tensions engulf another land,
Where xanthomelians live & recline,
Swathe of Mohammed mystery & sand,
More victims of imperial design;
Both France & Spain
Intend to share her spoils,
While starved of cooling rain Europa’s fever boils;

The Second Reich has realised
Berlin now holds the balance,
Whose Kaiser comes, cruel face disguis’d,
& carries the scales to France,
Where all the Moorish ports are prized
For all their elegance –
“Stoical & certain the world must know
Will the world go to war for Morrocco?”

At loggerheads the powers meet,
Til out of this discord
Men sign a treaty to defeat
The bloodshed & the sword,
But peace is barely breathing neath a damoclean sword!

Algeciras
March 31st
1905


Eastern Question

All the stars are melted together
in the crucible of time,
then cooled in the sea
Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo

The Tsarist empire, driven asunder
By feverish revolutionaries,
Now faces a new, vibrant challenger,
Whose Dragonstorms & sweet Seacanaries
Project their gaze
Oer Manchurian skies,
Caught in the Asian maze how national angers rise!

Moscow issues the Baltic fleet,
Protects her Pacific base,
But into this total defeat
Her unknowing captains race,
At Tsushima two empires meet
Where one left in disgrace,
Siberian steel sinking to sea-bed,
An ocean rippling with the Russian dead.

The silver moon spreads thro’ the sea
As fossils do a stone,
Man’s star-charts see golden glory
As with a yellow yawn,
Over an oriental dark the first flush rose of dawn.

Port Arthur
June 1st
1905


Entente Cordiale

Be war and vengeance fled:
That Europe, wrapt in lasting peace,
May rest her laurell’d head!
Louisa Stuart Costello

With all the varied vestments of her fame,
In splendid isolation London stands
Spectator of the continental game,
A global empire in her gentle hands;
The French envoy
Driven from Waterloo,
For Whitehall to enjoy high-level interview.

“Our problem here is Germany…
Her imperial intent
Could win her the hegemony
Over our old continent,
Threatening our stability,
This course we must prevent!
If war must come then Paris is prepared!”
Sentiment Britain’s delegation shared.

One hundred years have pass’d away
Since Nelson’s grand demise,
When every way that left Calais
Was thick with tricks & spies,
But in the face of danger ancyent enmity allies!

Whitehall
August
1905


Battle Plans

The moon, over the ancient fortress arose
Atop the thatched roof, a gourd
Like another moon shined brightly
Baek Seok

“The Great Powers have guaranteed their pacts
With pledges of mutual assurance,
Why should we wait their concerted attacks,
I have a plan to beat the alliance;”
Von Schlieffen spits
Intrigueing his Kaiser,
“My second Austerlitz murders France & Russia!”

“Go on,” said Wilhelm, “Sire, I feel
The method of victory,
One massive, military wheel
Thro’ Belgic neutrality,
Executed with speed & zeal,
Cut Paris from the sea,
& with French arms extinguish’d by the blow
We shall turn all of our strength on Moscow.”

The Kaiser nods, “We must grow strong,
The struggle surely near!”
A marching song, for right or wrong
The white doves disappear,
As Prussian milit’rism strides into a higher gear

Potsdam
September
1905


Dreadnaught

I said I’d like to write
on sea & you brought sea to me
Fathom by fathom the sea rises within
Leanne Ellul

The Scramble for Africa completed,
The Kaiser-Reich bedeck’d with meagre spoil,
A sense of a destiny, deep-seated,
Sets her expansive ambitions aboil;
Proud German steel
Must sculpt a High Seas Fleet,
What grand designs revealed with British might to meet?

Admirals fill the Baltic seas
With maritime manouvres,
“If they grow then by same degrees
Must we improve our forces!”
First Sea Lord, Churchill, this agrees,
“Like Prince Rupert’s horses
We must ensure the kudos remains ours
To strike great fear into foreign powers!”

Rivalry slowly turns to hate
(The hate that turns to war),
“Well, we want eight & we won’t wait!”
The fisher-English roar,
Their seat exalted challeng’d yon the ocean’s salty shore.

Portsmouth
1910


Death of Innocence

Out of harmless indolence, the Greece of books,
& the Jerusalem of memory there suddenly appears
the island of a poem, unpeopl’d
Adam Zagajewski

A century of blood-stench drags the breeze,
Annals of Empire quiver to a close
Like some rogue priest bent double with disease,
Still quaking from those cataclysmic throes;
One hundred years
My tempers train shall delve,
Thro’ all the blood & tears… Nineteen Hundred & Twelve.

The Kasier calls a konferenz,
Large maps besprawling table,
“As Russia, with the funds of France,
Shall soon become full stable,
I wish the borders to advance
As prompt as is able –
Dark clouds have gather’d yon the Vistula,
It must be war… & sooner the better.”

Faint rumbles on a stormy night,
Harsh whispers in the trees,
As grainy light illumes the fight,
INNOCENCE slumps on knees,
Her hump-back’d murderer administ’ring the final squeeze.

Europe
1912


Hitler

Day & night before the dreary portal
Phantom shapes, the guards of Hades, lie :
None of heavenly kind, nor yet of mortal
W.E Aytoun

Elfin painter took leave of Vienna,
Fair jewel of the dual monarchy,
By officers branded, ‘Herr Deserter’,
Rejected by the Arts Academie;
Some quarter-Jew
Pluck’d from obscurity,
Enslaved by the milieu’s intrigues of destiny.

Dawn lit the surging Salzburg heights,
An Alp in his stout heart grew,
His memories of bitter sleights
Cleans’d by Bavarian dew,
Upon the winds young mountain kites
In eagle fashion flew…
“So fate has brought me here to Germany!”
Thought swept upon the wing & flutter’d free.

From wooded lake, to street agleam,
Here seem’d a blither Rome,
As beggars dream to taste ice-cream
He deem’d this place his home,
Where pure-blood Aryans & the anti-semitic roam.

Munich
1913


Cup Final

I’ve sung for Jimmy Mullen
From the Longside at Turf Moor
Weather shinin’, shite & sullen
Damian Beeson Bullen

There is a whiff of warfare in the air,
When men die for another & his name,
No better thing, then, for the King to share,
The hurley-burley of his native game,
& takes his seat
Benign above it all,
Not for Holtzian suite, but players & a ball.

“Look son, look, bloody ‘ell, it’s king!”
Went Paddy to his Charlie,
The ball is floated from the wing,
Bert Freeman scores for Burnley,
Whoes lads & lasses gladly sing
For their hard-fought trophy –
The FA Cup is going to Turf Moor –
No safer place to rest throughout the war.

The King receives a great respect,
For milling with the crowd,
Medal-bedeck’d, the day perfect,
The Clarets pump out loud,
With roaring lungs, “God Save the King!” predicative & proud.

Crystal Palace
May
1914

Canto 36: The Great War

The wars of people will be more terrible than kings

Winston Churchill


Assassin!

Onto my boisterous pathway
Falls the invisible flash
Of the secluded black hole
Istok Ulchar

The Crown Prince peers out from the motorcade,
His House of Hapsburg gorging on conquest,
Whose tall, broad-chested soldiers on parade,
Hold back the Slavic peasantry oppress’d;
Soft eyelids close,
Flora fills his vision,
Song-maiden sniffs her rose in her secret garden…

…She laughs & they laugh together,
Rows of roses grow & bud,
Redd’ning fields stretching forever
In a wave transform to wood,
Flaming crosses in the heather,
Names crudely ink’d in blood –
An orphan girl chokes on her rose & dies,
Snakes slithing from the sockets of her eyes…

Stagling slips from silent shadows,
His stern lips firmly curl’d,
The hammer blows, the bullet glows,
A blast of black doom hurl’d,
A shot to slay an Arch Duke, heard in echoes round the world!

Sarajevo
June 28th
1914


Imperial Decree

With a fiend-like yelling & cheering,
They charge up the heights at a run ;
Grim men are they all & unfearing
Rev. Andrew McNab

There was a sense of something in the air,
Of great events & him stood at their heart,
Aye, he could feel the fever everywhere,
Tho’ from that spirit stood his soul apart,
Was this the stage?
When long-felt destiny
Could burst upon the age in perfect clarity?

The Odeonsplatz, glorious,
Cheers at the declaration,
Upon all sides the envious
Surround our precious nation,
But we shall be victorious!”
Roaring congregation
Sway’d with sheer bliss, up went a thousand hats
As if the daytime sky flew thick with bats.

Young Adolf Hitler, dour-faced, short,
Falls gloating to his knees
In spacious thought, this day long-sought,
“The world has heard my pleas,”
Beside him stood a woman gazing on him with unease.

Munich
August 1st
1914


War! War! War!

Gie’s but the weapons, we’ve the will,
Ayont the main, to prove again
Auld Scotland counts for something still.
Charles Murray

“Will you provide Germany’s armed forces
A safe, unhinder’d passage thro’ Belgium,
You are either with us, or against us!”
King Albert puts down the ultimatum
With solemn sigh,
Then scratches with his pen
Composing the reply, the death-warrants of men.

Liege falls in one day, waylaid
Britain feels the fall its own,
Never shall we unsheathe the blade
Of a sword not lightly drawn,”
The speaker cries, those first steps made
To reclaim Albert’s throne,
Pledging to fight, with the Parisienne,
For the rights of a small, friendly nation.

Ecstasy splurging thro’ the host,
Filling Trafalgar Square,
Pillar & post they’ll meet them most,
Those Germans far from fair,
“By Christmas Day we’ll win the war!” bombasted everywhere.

London
August 5th
1914


Outbreak

Man’s life is like the morning dew:
In this world he has misfortune in plenty.
Griefs & hardships oft come early
Ch’in Chia

From sylvan pool uprose the brooding Tsar,
Old gen’rals waiting silent on the rise –
Trusting his cousins not to start a war,
How casual the call to ‘Mobilise!’
But one word flies
From the Romanov serve,
Der Kaiser soon replies, seduced by conflict’s verve.

Thus a moment’ry decision
The world with War’s rug smothers,
Epic duel of heave & vision,
Cruel dread of doting mothers,
Crude destroyer of religion,
& bandsman of brothers,
Shambles of glory, honour, passion, pride,
But days of shame as Hell’s highway grows wide.

Born of the bed-soil of Jena,
Fed on the dirt & blood,
Our Max Stemmler aims his Mauser
At movements in the wood…
A shot! A scream! A murd’rous gleam, War’s truth now understood.

Europa
August 20th
1914


War March

Strike, Europe, with half the coming world allied,
For those ideals for which, since Homer sang,
The hosts of thirty centuries have died
G.E. Woodward

Families saw their loved ones to the train
‘Auflung nach Berlin!’ daub’d by Galahad,
How many Captain Scotts by future slain?
Is this love that they have soon to be had?
Paddy don’t go!
I’ve an ache in mi bones!”
The carriages start slow, shrill hoots drown Freda’s moans.

Russia march’d thro Eastern Prussia,
There the Vistula to glean,
& she march’d into Galicia,
Gymnastirka olive green,
Where bayonets of Austria,
Defiant, mass’d & mean,
Sunglint tarnish’d by allegro drumming,
“Cossacks! Cossacks! the Cossacks are coming!”

Born of the bed soil of Jena,
Fed on the dirt & blood,
Mild Max Stemmler aims his Mauser
At movements in the wood,
A shot! A scream! the murd’rous gleam, war’s truth now understood.

Europe
August 20th
1914


Tannenburg

Now the heroes lie there
Melting in the sun.
And their gorgeous girls are weeping
Ralf Parland

The Russian Bear scenostrils Konigsberg,
Herr Ludendorrf promptly commanded East,
At Hanover collected Hindenburg,
Two titans bound to halt Muscovy’s beast;
Oer Sauerkraut
The instancy discuss’d,
Leaving them with no doubt, “Attack! Attack we must!”

As when the blessed Saladin
Defied his land’s invader
& offer’d battle at Hattyn
To the sacred Knights Templar
The Germans drew that Slav host in,
Encircled in terror…
As once again the Prussian lancer nears.
Shell after shell reduce stout men to tears.

“Niet! Niet!” the fibre fades,
Hopelessly surrounded
From ghoulish glades pour pale parades,
Shapkaless, exhausted…
Ancyent, angry Teutonic shades harass the surrender’d.

Eastern Prussia
August 31st
1914


Battle of the Marne

of these houses
nothing
but fragments of memory
Guiseppe Ungaretti

Such bitter seed sewn by the Prussian deed,
What little needs nations incite to war,
As once more into Flanders fields they feed
Waggons & steeds, men marching by foot raw;
The Wehrmacht scent
Parisian perfume,
How proudly brave men went toward that front’s dull boom.

As when Afghani toss’d Redcoats
In tatters down the Khyber,
Or Hannibal saw his stout boats
Destroy’d upon the Tiber,
The French, free from defence & forts,
Show the famous fibre
That threw back the invader in ‘Thirteen…
This century no Fontainbleus are seen.

Grey gen’ralry ride stallions
To heights o’erlooking Meaux,
Like Rome’s legions battalions
Are order’d to withdraw
From the avengant Gaul… Moltke says, “We have lost the war!

France
October
1914


Seizure of the Seas

We have come home
From the bloodless wars
With sunken hearts
Lenrie Peters

Hostilities commence upon the waves,
Hochsenflotte christening the contest,
But, afore Coronel could claim her graves,
The fleet is order’d South by South-Sou’ West;
Dolphins in train
Yon dusky Spain they blow,
Aim’d at the sailor’s bane… Tierra del Fuego.

Grey wolves round Cape Horn near & Norse,
Helmsman the gallant Von Spee,
Lying in wait a vengeant force
Rais’d anchor at Port Stanley
& sights the foe! sets fighting course!
The battle-scarr’d foe flee,
Scatter’d amid grey-beards wide & rolling,
Stern, Starboard, Port & Bow shellfire falling.

The Gneisenau, Von Spee’s Scharnhost,
The Nurnburg & Leipzig
The bubbling toast of Churchill’s boast,
His sailors dance a jig…
While England free to roam the waves the foe is forced to dig.

The British Ocean
December 8th
1914


First Christmas

Foemen at morn, but friends at eve –
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
Herman Melville

Wars of manoeuvre on their last legs stand,
Warm maxims smoking by a mass graveside,
Stalemate from the North Sea to Switzerland,
Swathes of trench-works sundering countryside;
One freezing night
Der Wehrmacht think of home,
O blaze of lantern light! O twinkling tannenbaum!

Sweet sung, “Stille nacht, heilige nacht…”
Was the Hun’s opening shell,
“Lads! Lads! we’re not being attack’d!”
Tommy hums The First Noel,
Before too long the truce had track’d
All thro the trenches hell,
Over the top & into No Mans Land
Men went to shake another human hand.

As dawn broke over ghastly ground
The love of life outpour’d,
A football found, quick kickaround,
A goal or six are scored…
Shrill whistles drift the soldiers back – where they’d play’d snow had thaw’d.

The Western Front
December 25th
1914

Canto 37: Wings of War

Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detachd itself from the skull.

Siegried Sassoon


American Incunabula

Now you are one of us, you know our tears,
Those tears of pride & pain so fast to flow;
You too have sipped the first strange draught of woe
EM Walker

“Deutschland ganzlich einzukeisen!” throats wail,
Submerging terrors reverse the blockade,
Lusitania… Old Head of Kinsale…
Torpedoes… hopes of peace noyantly fade;
One explosion
Back-echoes to New York –
Ship lists, hiss-slips, is gone… the World’s press flock to Cork.

To Jerkwater the news soon spread,
Hank hock’d a hooch with Harry,
Shocking ink columns shaking read,
“I have German ancestry,
But those poor American dead
Have rais’d the beast in me!”
“It is was it is, Hank, don’t get involv’d!”
“But Buddy, how else could this be resolv’d?”

“Call off your wolves!” Kaiserwards went,
Wise, by Woodrow Wilson,
Threat keenly meant, the President
Frets at word from London.;
“Zepp’lins have bomb’d our capital…” sacred causal fusion.

Washington
May 10th
1915


The Last Grenadier

The corn was turnin’, hairst was near,
But lang afore the scythes could start
A sough o’ war gaed through the land
Charles Murray

An old man hobbl’d with his great-grandsons,
Breath’d in the dust of a past century,
The growls & the howls of the young Hun’s guns
Awakening his vivid memory;
Tho’ barely sane,
Half driven blind by age,
He shuffl’d his frail frame onto that famous stage.

Tween Hougoumont & La Haye-Saint
His raging nostalgia veer’d,
Tward a panoramic lion
All his stumbling footsteps veer’d,
Fifty thousand phantoms upon
Hades horison reer’d,
Dogs braying fearfully from nearby farms,
All round resounds the mighty clash of arms.

He saw his father hard impal’d
Upon the scarlet square,
& as he wail’d the Gaurdsmen fail’d,
His Grand Pa-Pa led there,
Shielding his cowering grand-child whilst bayoneted bare.

Waterloo
June 18th
1915


Gallipoli

They seek to bring us under
But England lives, & still will live –
For we’ll crush the despot under
Alfred Tennyson

Kitchener’s Churchillian conjecture
Battle brings before Constantinople,
Champagne thrill of Achaean adventure,
The Gentle, savage; the Savage, gentle;
“Where are you from?”
“Melbourne…” “Why are you here?”
Senses of soldiers numb, led captive to the rear.

The soul of Rupert Brooke releas’d,
Packs poetry for the trip,
Byronic sortie to the East
But mosquito punctures lip,
By volumes his visions increas’d,
Death climbs aboard the ship,
For what seem’d a tayle, epic & Trojan,
Now slowly sluiced with tragical poison.

From sandy cliffs to hills jagged
Sloping from Chunuk Blair,
Up ridge ragged, long trail hagger’d,
Thro’ hot, wilderness air,
Bluce Slater from Australia spat bullets ev’rywhere.

Turkey
August
1915


Rommel

My strength is the strength
Of ten young things: I am with you:
In that first moment of delight
Roethke

The French assault is driven from Alsace,
Initiative is passing from the Blues,
Unto the German greys, pushing en masse
In fire-fight sporadic to the Meuse;
The Jaws of Hell
Chewing Foret d’Argonne,
Where young Erwin Rommel warfares like a falcon

Upon these five poor sons of France
Vigorously rapidly,
Three shot down in one keen instance,
With his magazine empty,
Fix’d bayonet, a hawkish glance
As native bravery
Gut-quelled by bullets brushing past the eye,
His foemen flee, “Come back & fight!” the cry.

For this he’ll win the Iron Cross
While contreemen bog down,
Held at a loss before the schloss
Defending Verdun town,
A sunken vauban rampart, a Tricolour on its crown.

Fort Douamant
September 24th
1915


East Lancashire’s War

I saw him stab
& stab again
a well-killed Boche
Herbert Read

Give some fella a gun, ‘ees an ‘ero,
Give ‘im a conscience, ‘ee gets thrown in jail!”
“Charlie,” said Rose, “I wunt want yer to go!”
“Now why would I wanna leave you?” a wail
Strays down the street,
With his next door neighbour,
“Put summat on yer feet & go get yer mother!”

Beneath the rugged Hamildon,
Marching by a brown canal,
Pass morosely top o’ Hapton
As at some dour funeral,
Reeling, at length, thro’ Accrington,
To hear of their own Pal…
Upon the Town Hall notice boards they’ll see,
‘Patrick Sumner has died for his country.’

Freda broke down, felt in her heart
An ache to never die,
Charlie’s thoughts dart, world wrench’d apart,
“Revenge! Revenge!” he’ll cry
Racing to add his signature to Gen’ral Haig’s supply.

Lancashire
October
1915


Verdun’s Vernality

Verify every fear. But there is warmth
In this sudden desire to sleep,
To surrender to our common condition
Phillis Levin

Der Kaiser’s son goes tripping off to war,
Finding marches harsh & melancholy,
Reaching the rock-face of an ancyent shore,
Casting his gaze oer wide-wooded country;
From leafy shades
Vast lines of flames upvent,
About the barricades, a famous salient.

“Mon Dieu!” “Mon Dieu!” “Mon Dieu!” again,
Men plunder’d from their dreaming,
A four-hour seastorm raged, & then
The silence wades thro’ screaming,
To arms!” a gas-mask’d tide of men,
Splice the em’rald streaming,
On every side flinders a fatal threat;
A bullet, bomb-blast, brick or bayonet.

Death-vicious frays even apall
The harden’d legionnaires,
A madman’s maul ’til fortress fall
Verdun will soon be theirs,
Or say pin-headed generals sate safely in their chairs.

Fort Douamont
February 25th
1916


Deserter

I want to go home. I want to go home.
The whizzbangs they rattle, the cannon they roar,
I don’t want to go to the Front any more!
Anonymous

There is a madness in the mind of man,
The water torture of a constant war,
Always up fighting, always in the van,
Frank phantasizes of his native shore
Scarpers his trench,
This war for him’s over,
Pretending to be French all the way to Dover.

He ran home to his early life
From man’s terrors travels far
& ravages his pretty wife,
Trousers mingle with her bra,
But then there comes the cruel knife
To open up the scar,
Cold knock-knock at door, two stone-faced Sergeants
Have come to fetch this white feather to France.

His family’s tearful farewell
Still haunting all the while
He paced the cell, a living hell
& barely legal trial,
Shot at the wall… some sprawl’d ‘deserter’ sporting insane smile..

France
March
1916


All Quiet on the Western Front

The candle stumps stand there staring solemnly.
Across the nocturnal vault of the church
Moans go drifting & choking words
Wilhelm Klemm

T’was just another day in the trenches,
The ‘stand to’ bugler blew before the dawn,
From this heatless zee-catching he wrenches;
Slugs, frogs, bats, rats & beetles flee the yawn;
Breakfast before
Shelling begins at eight,
Less murder, more the bore men call the ‘Morning Hate.’

Those walking with the Lord worship’d,
Others played or talk’d instead,
The gaunt are by despair oft gripp’d,
Some stand up & lost their head,
The ‘stand-to’ call’d as sunshine slipp’d
In bed of rosy red;
The ‘Evening Hate’ has cool’d as fades the light,
Both sides prepare patrols to pass the night.

Some flick thro’ books, some capture mice,
Some requisition rest,
Some pick at lice, some lose at dice,
Some gaze out to the West,
Watching a crimson streak that might have issued from Christ’s breast.

France
April
1916


Jutland

On the strength of one link in the cable
Dependeth the might of the chain;
Who knows when thou mayest be tested?
Captain Ronald Hopwood

From the Firth of Forth to the Scapa Flow,
Ready to greet the gaze of Adm’ral Scheer,
London’s Grand Fleet gifted to Jellicoe,
As draws decisive action ever near;
Collision course
All thro’ a nervous night,
A day ready for force, the ocean kimberlite.

Alarum bells by sharp lookouts,
Smooth, grey seas roll foreboding,
Aburst in mighty water spouts;
Range gauged, a swift reloading,
Gigantic sounds drown frantic shouts
Massive ships exploding,
Superdreadnaughts & Battle Cruisers,
Into what monstrous clash this day fuses.

God’s fog, Man’s smoke encoats the foam
Trafalgar’s broken spell,
Thro’ thick’ning gloam two fleets limp home,
Drift bodies in the swell,
The sea still loves his mistress, but the victor who can tell?

The North Sea
May
1916

Canto 38: Boiling Points

There will be wars such as there have never been on earth… an eclipse of the sun such as there has probably never yet been on earth… I greet all the signs that a more manly, warlike age is coming, which will, above all, bring valour again into honour.

Frederick Nietzsche


Verdun

Does it matter? Losing your sight?…
There’s such splendid work for the blind:
& people will always be kind
Siegfried Sassoon

There is a glory in the call to arms,
Marshall Petain bestrode the sacred route,
All galvanised by strong & simple charms,
“The city must be held here coute que coute!”
Firm-fisted hands
Charcoal maps with action.
“Monsieurs, les Allemands sont toujours a Noyon!”

“The nation’s first emergency,
France with faith & fire… ATTAQUE!”
Jean Francois treads the Route Sacree,
Two columns pass on the track,
His marching up to Calvary,
The other slouching back…
& heeding an old soldiers wise advice
Fought well & waiv’d the supreme sacrifice.

With Douamont another Metz,
The war within a war,
Recalling debts the Marshall nets
The ruin’d Fort de Vaux,
Scanty reward for days idled away in blood & gore.

France
June 7th
1916


Battle of the Somme

Rivers are brim-full of blood by fall of night.
Legion are the bodies laid out in the reeds,
Covered white with the strong birds of death.
George Heym

The Top Brass dined in rich bigwigerie,
“An effort must be made to win the war!
For now we face a weaker Germany,
The hell pits at Verdun her running sore!”
Over the top,
Footballs leading the way,
Thinking nothing could stop them on the Berlin way.

Brave captains, blades melded to hand,
Lead the calm, steel-hatted rows
Cross tangl’d miles of No Mans Land…
“Here they come!” squawk sentry crows,
From deep redoubts burnt soldiers stand
Singe-tingling heads to toes;
‘Das Trommelfeur’ offers a rare respite,
“At last the bastards have come out to fight…”

The chatter of the Maxim gun
Some violent thunderclap,
“No man shall run toward the Hun!”
(Thought absent from the map),
Officers thinning on the field, “Well cheerio old chap!”

Blighty Valley
July 1st
1916


The English Somme

Our son touches his forehead
runs a hand down his body to his feet
“I felt sad from here to here.”
Robert Hamberger

The Magpies have abandon’d Picardie,
There mortal combat carried with aplomb,
Pig-tail’d pickets inching forward grimly,
The slow, slogging slaughter of the Somme;
Bligh’s virgin flight
Skim’s carnage far & wide,
When great elephants fight suffers the countryside.

Graves met his friend by candlelight
In a cellar of Fricourt,
God, Sass, what poetry we’ll write
When the battle shall be oer!”
To them the muses in their flight
Sole tonic of a war
Throwing like-minded jongleurs together,
Ah! lasciate ogni speranza.

Pat join’d the brave Lancastrians
For Moo-Cow Farm to fall,
Australians, Canadians,
A wretched three-month crawl
& at the last, the action past, heart pierc’d by shrapnel ball.

Mouquet Farm
October
1916


Victory at Verdun

How many French in flower of youth laaid low,
Whom wives & mothers shall never more behold,
Nor those of France who wait them on the road!
The Song of Roland

Somehow could Jean Francois still offer fight,
Despite facing death’s gaze ten thousand times,
In ev’ry shell-hole slept a hellish sight,
At ev’ry turn the clamour of man’s crimes;
Once more Petain
Has order’d the advance,
Thou messianic man, thou saviour of all France.

Perch’d behind the barrage roulant
March’d many a division;
Rough Provencal, bold Morrocon,
Sweet-scented Parisian,
Clear-eye’d Vosges, hardy Gascon
& bulldog-toned Breton,
The poilus of a nation unified,
Praising their precious Charlemagne they died,

As now some new triumphant urge
Pull’s war’s grey grimace taut
One final surge up to the verge
Of that hard fought for fort,
Jean Francois plants the Tricolor, “Victoire!” screams from his throat.

Fort Douamont
October 29th
1916


Russian Revolution

Chisels of embers
like a flaming fuse
split open a path
Achille Mizzi

The tide has turn’d against an emperor,
His soldiery is voting with its feet,
The bread queues are erupting in anger,
Strikes everywhere as riots run the street;
The police, too, turn,
Sat awkwardly alone
The world jolts up to learn the Tsar has lost his throne.

As moles have brought the fall of kings,
Or goats choke for praetors,
As one the citizenrie flings
Up bones of their forefathers,
& to the lord of Russia brings
Vengeance on his errors,
Urging his Royal Highness, “Abdicate!”
He does & begs the mercies for his fate.

A council forms of common men
They call the ‘Soviet,’
A certain zen flows from the pen
& while the ink still wet,
The call for peace spreads far & wide, a gliding pirouette.

Petrograd
March 16th
1917


Catalytic Conversion

I have a rendezvous with Death
at some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
Alan Seeger

As his Siegessauler soldiers faded
Der Kaiser holds his head in heavy hands,
His empire grown hungry, as blockaded
The curse of scurvy scourges thro’ his lands;
& there remains
One way to win the War,
To sink the shipping lanes that touch the western shore.

There was enough sunk to impress
A modicum of urgency
Upon America’s congress,
Their precious democracy
Should Europe’s problems readdress,
& forge that Europe free,
No longer parley to that stark charade
The president calls for a great crusade,

Then took tea at the Pentagon,
“What clothes our forces wear?”
The fleet rusts on, arms next to none,
A few planes in the air!”
We’d better get a move on, then, we’re needed over there.”

Washington
April 6th
1917


Of War & Men

And here’s to the Blue & Gray as one,
When we meet on the fields of France;
May the spirit of God be with us all
G.M. Mayo

There is a scented season men name Spring,
Air slowly perfumed by a floral spray,
Laburnam, Rhododendrum, blossoming
By little lambs so sylph like in their play;
O pleasant clime,
Days of the Daffodil,
But also times of crime, the urge returns to kill.

Death comes in droves, in droves I say,
Imagine the Bernabau
When Barcelona come to play
& each fan slain… tell me how
Men can allow mankind to slay
His own as tho some cow…
Now to the stadia the Yanks advance,
Their targets are the painted dames of France,

Where Dillinger don’t give a damn
For his young wife Rita,
A quick wham-bam, & “Thank ye mam!”
Five francs ring the meter,
All while his son was born that morn out home in Jerkwater.

Paris
May
1917


Poetry of War

You must be from my country
I see it by the tick
Of your soul around the eyelashes
Tchicaya U Tam’si

Seigfreid heard soften’d knocking at the door,
Young Wilfred Owen stood there rather shy,
Clutching his poems, not one book but four!
Sass caught a special ‘something’ in his eye;
How they show it,
That special sympathy,
“I-I am a poet…” “Why, would you care for tea?”

With Graves they form’d a company
Of literary lions,
Baring the torch of Poetry
Thro this dark day’s dalliance,
Channelling sacred energy
Thro’ most artful science,
Rose milk & honey springing from within,
“These terrible times, times worth living in!”

Lost on a stroll thro’ the garden,
Life seem’d a better age,
Brave deeds now done how Keatsian
Men carved marvellous page,
Ants, players, friends & stars performing on the greatest stage.

Craiglockhart
September
1917


Passcheandale

ulcers of mustard gas, a rivet in the lung
from scrappy shrapnel,
frostbite, trench-fever, shell-shock
Basil Bunting

Sallow soldiers splash thro’ boot-sucking mud,
Clinging like poor relations, twice as fast
It breeds, each shell-hole nauseate with blood,
Swollen black lads bolt upright in repast;
Still falls the rain –
An English Pioneer,
Slow-walks the wooden vein, two German scouts appear…

…One blasted dead, aim switch’d sharp right,
Max dodg’d the angry bullet,
Thick slipping into slime & shite,
Duckboard tilts Charlie in it,
Both surging in a mucky fight,
Gasps, grappling, grasping, grit;
KARMA appears, the convertite goddess,
To part the duel, men break in weariness,

Two warriors from fight withdrew,
Exhausted breaths extrude,
Soak’d thro’ & thro’ & filthy too,
Both stalk’d off unpursued,
Waking from death’s dalliances wrack’d with disquietude.

Flanders
November
1917

Canto 39: Slaughter’s End

Rescue this man from his mustache,
curling so proudly, while inside he tears
his hair

Rumi


Cambrai

It is more than the odor of this core of earth
& water. It is that which is distill’d
In the prolific ellipses that we know
Wallace Stevens

The summer turns to Autumn, turns to mud,
Despite the shite the ‘Big Push’ pushes on,
The German sentries frozen where they stood,
What is this ‘thing?’ this king phenomenon;
This iron-clad
Slow rumbling to their lines,
The World is going mad, the World & its designs!

More lethal than the brazen bull,
O miraculous machines!
Attack the military squall
Carrying brushwood facines
To plug the trenchs, on they roll,
The Germans rout in scenes
Of panic over tussocky grassland –
The British have no cards left in the hand,

No reserves to exploit the gap,
& the crews exhausted,
Counter attack, the ground aon back,
A captain scratch’d his head,
Cursing the moments wasted as he pasted up the dead.

Marcoing
November 27th
1917


Soviet Dawn

I see beyond all words his future shape,
Its feet upon the carcass of the ape
& round its mighty head, prophetic birds
Thomas Blackburn

Two trains pass, two souls slumb’ring in the car,
Entering… exiting… the theatre,
The last, the royal person of the Tsar,
The first, emergant comrade from Georgia;
Stalin breaks free,
Siberia behind,
He flutters on the freedom of the releas’d mind.

As the Commissars took their place
All the Soviets now one,
The Bolsheviks bore Hemlock face,
Control the railway station,
Banks, Post Office, Winter Palace,
The city all but won –
Their faustian Lenin seizes power,
Resplendent in his magnificent hour.

Comrades offering obeyance
Kept him on a promise,
This fresher stance, forget poor France,
What new found wisdom this?
A warring empire, humbl’d, probing for an armistice.

Petrograd
Oktober
1917


Death of the Red Baron

Soul, to its place on high !
They that have seen thy look in death
No more may fear to die
F.D.Hemans

Young Nigel Bligh, bestriding flying horse,
Fresh from the Cam & now a fledgeling part
Of the recently form’d Royal Air Force,
Sits chomping at the bit for it to start;
Propellor whirls,
Up-up, up & away!
The glory & the girls must court him from this day.

He saw a duel oer Morlaincourt,
An Albatross & Camel,
The British plane drops with a roar,
So in Bligh sped to battle,
His spits out bullets by the score,
With a murd’rous rattle,
A bullet in his lungs the Baron drown’d
In blood, his triplane spiralling to ground.

I hope he roasted all the way,
That bastard of the sky!”
“O frabjous day, Calloo, callay!”
Three cheers for Nigel Bligh,
A gorgeous gladiator with elation in his eye.

Vaux-sur-Somme
April 21st
1918


German Offensive

Wavering over the sun
Their arms are still greeting a king,
Holding out hands for a gun
Roger Roughton

Reading Nietzsche, muse-immured in Homer,
Herr Hitler huddles in his solitude,
An allright sort of chap, but a loner,”
His comrades say, “Tho with spirit imbued!”
One fitful dream,
One lord over it all,
Released with banshee scream Satanus caught his soul!

Herr Goering flies above the ground
Where stormtrooper religions
With one desire to kill & wound
Like diabolique engines
Roll thro stunn’d trenches, hard boots pound
Cats among the pigeons,
With camauflage & special torpedo
A surge of strength wherever they may go.

Max Stemmler’s unit must advance
He kiss’d Aimee goodbye,
Our sweet Constance best left in France,”
Their babe began to cry –
As off he rush’d up to the front their tender dream did die.

Flanders
June
1918


Imperial Dusk

There is none, noe none but I,
None but I soe full of woe,
That I cannot chuse but dye
Sir Robert Ayton

Conscious of its manifest destiny,
Tho’ barely now a pawn of Man’s Great Game,
The fledgeling wings of eagle Liberty
Spreads oer the world, fanning the flames of fame;
Her noble cause,
Industrious resolve,
Shall salve the Old World’s sores & fractious fights there solve.

Naught could curtail the disaster
Of the Teutonic disgrace,
From holes dank half-men surrender,
Happiness etch’d in each face,
On all sides it seems Der Kaiser
Has lost his crucial race
To win the War before the sure deadline…
America has stiffen’d Britain’s spine!

Across the scene was slowly drawn
A curtain waste & long,
On Fred’rick’s throne, sate limp & lone,
The culprit joins the throng
Increasing in volumity, wondering what went wrong?

Potsdam
September 29th
1918


Ottoman Winter

Now stoops the sun, & dies day’s cheerful light.
When stars stread forth, intone this two-tongued folk,
Standing with firebrands, hymns of sacrifice
C.M. Doughty

Empires are born as glass is born of sand
Then turn to sand, scarlet sands Syrian
Are roam’d by one born of another land,
Laird of the head-dress’d horsemen of Hejan;
Fair Lawrence leads
King Feisal’s cavalry
Upon fine, strong-thigh’d steeds behind an enemy.

Thro’ olive grove & fields of grain
Wind the streets of Megiddo
Blows bloody fall as stormswept rain,
White the hot-edged sabres glow
As dim-spawn’d devils deal in pain
Angels honoours bestow,
As thro the battleground of the furies
Tread the Fates with JUSTICE & her juries…

As Visigoths view’d the Tiber,
Life left Alexander,
Fat Emperor of Helena,
& died Montezuma…
The Turks are toss’d from Syria with all their vile terror.

Arabia
October 1st
1918


New Directions

And everything is gone, the body is gone
completely under, gone, entirely gone.
The upper darkness is heavy as the lower
D.H. Lawrence

Max Stemmler bid a last farewell to France,
His mistress & the babe wrapt in her arms,
That sweet, little cherub she call’d Constance,
A better name to hear round Flander’s farms;
One final kiss
To evermore lament,
Leaving his love a ‘miss,’ leaves with his regiment.

Two Juden breakfast in Berlin,
A city dispirited,
From sure, so sure, they had to win,
To totally defeated,
While Jakob takes it on the chin,
Moses felt quite cheated,
Brother, for us see this through together,
You take Frankfurt & I’ll take Vienna.”

Charlie sat in the Old Nag’s Head
With his beloved Rose,
“Love, let’s get wed” “Alright,” she said,
As giddy guiness flows,
“Time,” roars the landlord… “Its turn’d eleven,” “Aye, them’s new laws!”

Burnley
October
1918


Death of Owen

All is over & done :
Render thanks to the Giver,
England, for thy son
Lord Tennyson

The choice & master spirits of an age
Spread piety, think deep, & deal in gore,
Or lay soft-spoken thoughts upon the page…
A poet knocks upon a poet’s door;
Goodbye Seigfreid,
My service is required,
But thanks to you my mead of poetry inspired.”

With vitesse vigour freshly found
He surged back to the battle,
Back to the brawl, back to the sound
Of teeth gnashing eternal,
It seem’d for him the world had found
A finer crucible,
For here amid the bloodshed & the rage
One could sense the poesis of an age.

He paced along the slowboat boards,
Urging men as they fell,
Damocles swords & twanging cords,
The Captain hears the knell
The old lie sounded, “To die in battle is to die well!”

Ois-Sambre Canal
November 4th
1918


Dynastic Epithet

After long labouring in the windy ways,
On smooth & shining tides
Swiftly the great ship glides
Henry Newbolt

Of churning turns of history make ware,
Accelerating thro’ a century
On which the gaze of history shall stare
Astonish’d at such Human enmity;
Like teenagers
Torn from their mobile phones,
Society rages, exploding with hormones!

Brandenburg’s bold marquisate
Brought the world to war for years,
On Coromandel war ships sat
While Culloden shed cool tears,
But now the legacy grown fat,
The old house disappears,
The royal brood enforced to abdicate,
Where once was loyal breeds now only hate.

Same fate bestow’d on the Kaiser
As the Sinean Kings,
Montezuma & Mombaza,
Gem-crusted Moghul rings…
An emperor forced to flutter with foreign schmetterlings.

Holland
November 9th
1918

Canto 40: Broken Peace

I have heard it said that one who excels in safe-guarding his own life does not meet with rhinocerous or tiger when travelling on land nor is he touched by weapons when charging into an army. There is nowhere for the rhinocerous to pitch its horn; there is nowhere for the tiger to place its claws; there is nowhere for the weaapon to lodge its blade. Why is this so? Because for him there is no realm of death.

Lao Tzu


Armistice

And view with retrospective eye
Th’Imperial States whose awful destiny
It was to fade, decay, & disappear
Count Frederick Von Erlach

The War is over, namore the killing,
Meek Franciscans move thro’ many nations
HOPE mops blood-sodden brows, when, god willing,
All creeds & contrees breed good relations;
Order’d to yield,
The Wehrmacht leave the trench,
Behind, a bitter field & the ecstatic French.

The Hohenzollern dynasty
Emulates the ancyent Czar,
Forfeits the Kaiser’s monarchy
To the fortunes lost in war,
The Junkers of old Germany
Are gather’d at Weimar,
To delegate a democratic air,
Some treacherous republic to declare.

In some disused railway carriage
All honour sign’d away,
A fretful page, a flaming rage,
To burn some bitter day,
When rise again shall Germany, when all the world shall pay.

Forest of Compeigne
November 11th
1918


Hitler Awakes!

Indeed the idols I haved loved so long
Have done my Credit in Men’s Eye much wrong :
Have drown’d my honour in a shallow cup
Edward Fitzgerald

Far from the front rested little Hitler,
Bed-stricken with a bout of syphilis,
Into the ward bursts a babling pastor,
“Friends, we are beaten, there’s an armistice!”
The war was lost,
A fury rakes the room,
Into a sea-storm toss’d souls suffering in gloom.

He struggl’d to his feet in pain,
Rush’d pass’d the shell-shock’d patients
Into an evening’s winter’s rain,
Cursing the western nations,
“Is all our sacrifice in vain?
All our bleak privations?”
How could this be, he’d sens’d it in his core,
Herr Hitler was a superman of war.

Slump’d by rain-swept roadside peter’d,
Sobbing for Germany,
His dejected & defeated
Yet wunderbar contree,
He felt brave futures strain imprimis to his destiny.

Pasewalk
November
1918


Flight of Peace

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll !
Leave thy low-vaulted past !
OW Holmes

Where once was warring calm must reign supreme,
When analysts can encasque all the data,
Oer Saharan hues, cerulean dream
Dovelets flew, ellipsing the Meseta;
Dog-rough cloud rolls
Inspiral from the Earth,
Lest we forget those souls who sacrificed their birth.

The tumult & the shouting dies,
The world three armies receives,
The first with murder in the eyes
When a wounded heart bereaves,
The next already on the rise
As good men become thieves,
Then pity the last! forced to bear the mark
Of battle… some crippl’d, some mad, some dark.

O slender bird, majestic mein,
Men watch ye as ye fly
Up over Spain & in thy train
Men made contented sigh,
Watching thee dance amid the burning tapers of the sky.

Europe
November
1918


Nervous World

Let us complete the list with family graves.
The wind alone now strokes the granite stones
And only rainfall washes them with tears
Liana Alaverdova

Masticating mellifluous parley,
Men banish war & all its awful train,
Stays the pinguid breeze that shakes the barley,
Even the New World forced to know its bane;
Setting the scene
For godless, global rage,
Deep things to be & been must pass upon this page.

Our Earth has sewn its seeds of woe
In the fertile bed of time,
Every one a weeping willow
Every one commits a crime,
Ye free men of the future show
Thro prose or rosy rhyme,
How great World War was always meant to be
For we have always danced with destiny!

Berlin, Moscow, Paris, Warsaw,
Valetta, Washington,
Brussels, Cairo, Rome, Tokyo,
Vienna & London,
Pace round PEACE, a pack of wolves approaching Armageddon.

Versaille
1919


Homecoming

That, setting, the sun has only to highlight
Girls crowding the railway track, as the train slows,
For me to discover it is not my station
Boris Pasternak

At the Douamont fort, by sunset shades,
Veterans lays a wreath to heal Verdun,
Melancholic souls of fallen comrades
Escort one on tracks back to Briancon;
Two hundred francs,
Two shirts, suit, shoes, no more;
With all a nation’s thanks for winning them the war.

Click-clack’d the slowly sloping train
Up thro’ the Alpine passes,
Attack’d by shawls of driving rain,
He wipes his misty glasses…
“At last! Mon coeur sees home again!”
Light & glossy lasses –
Like flutes, dribbling jubilant glucose –
Applauding nostoi of their handsome heroes.

He heads for home, he sheds a tear,
A gasp! “C’est Jean-Francois!”
Who, halting cheering, jolts back beer,
Drenching thirst in nectar,
“Deux francs,” “Deux francs! C’est ridicule pour une Stella Artois!”

France
1919


The New Peace

Sleep, for the yards of jail houses
Are all teeming with violent death,
And you are the more in need of rest
Muhammad Mahdi Al-Jawahiri

Let us establish a League of Nations,”
Say the wardens of a war-weary world,
A glimpse of Man’s mature aspirations,
Now that his battle-banners have been furl’d;
The status quo
Returns to normalcy,
The nurse-child of Anglo-Saxon hegemony.

Britain proclaims pre-eminence
While Russia has revolted,
The moral laurels worn by France,
For peace she’s now devoted,
But, spurning this most perfect chance,
Grandly isolated,
The States withdraw yon oceanic moats,
Jealous of English empire’s six full votes.

On a simple piece of paper
‘World Peace’ has had its birth,
America’s non-signature
Belittling its worth,
Shirking responsibilities as policemen of the Earth.

Geneva
1920


War & Peace

I am the rustling of the world
the swaying between here and elsewhere
the dumb foliage of the cactus
Abdourahman A. Waberi

As the arms of that Star-Spangl’d nation,
Game-enders of Europe’s lust for violence,
Shrivel, daily, into isolation,
Two philopoemen charg’d with her defence
Nestle to eat
Hot & home-made dinner,
Fanning the shady heat from that cool veranda.

As Mrs Patton pours the wine
Her gentlemen musings share,
Wisdom draped in a southern whine,
On the art of Tank Warfare,
“To penetrate the foe’s front line
One concentrate must there…”
“Yes, strike like cobras with artillery,
Not spread right out defending infantry.”

Once Mrs Mamie Eisenhower
Has serv’d the last liqueur,
The men shower, within the hour,
They hear a bright lecture
On ‘Pursuit of Routing Armies,’ by the young MacArthur.

Camp Meade
1920


Baby Boom

Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have
Sharon Olds

Charlie Sumner stagger’d down Accy Road,
Hit Havelock’s lock-in, a quick whiskey,
Then thro’ his crude two-up, two-down, tiptoed,
To pounce upon his wife, drunk & frisky;
“Gerroff!” a clout,
His silent smile’s intrigue
Bends to triumphant shout… “We’ve won the blummin’ league!”

How rare is it to find true mate
To share thy meagre ration,
Youths rush upstairs to celebrate,
Indulging perfect passion
Without a jonny, for, of late,
Babies are in fashion:
He gasps as he sighs as his seed slips in,
A cry! Rose rises, “Our Jack needs feedin!”

His wife away…. some charabang
Lets off a lively BOOM!
With barren pang the clammy clang
Of battle claims the room,
While friends that fell at Passcheandale wail, “Charlie!” thro’ the gloom.

Burnley
1921


The Nazi Party

I cannot tell what ails me,
But this I know for sure,
Thou only art my cure
Baba Tahir

He mutter’d thro’ the Englischer Garten,
Thought foregleaming the forthcoming meeting,
Leaves dress’d in the yellow tinge of Autumn,
While blare out Bayern Bandsmen billowing
Into the streets,
Where with a spiky fist
Brawling Right-Winger meets the cut-throat Communist.

“For over fifteen centuries
Reign’d the Holy Roman law,
When Fate unites the Germanies
We shall speak the peace once more
& Versaille’s damned iniquities
Demolish with a roar!”
”Rubbish!” some quatted heckler dares a noise,
Dragg’d off, rough’d up by tough-mouth’d bully-boys.

All hail the darling of the Right,
Staunch National Socialist,
Anti-Semite, ready to fight,
With politic & fist,
The pillars of democracy… his horde applaud upryst.

Munich
1922

Canto 41: Fascist Dawn

Where there’s life there’s hope

Terence


Putsch

Who is this screamer in the street?!
With a frightened voice and broken heart
Who is this mad man?!
Ali Khalifa

Minacious voice yelling, “Now is the time!”
Bullies into the Beurgerbraukeller,
Bemedall’d Ludendorf lending his crime
A strange respect, that dangerous fella,
Unfash’nable,
Leaps up, shooting his gun,
“Countrymen the national revolution has begun!”

While Roehm mans the Ministry
Hitler phrenzied followers
Drive enteric thro’ the city,
Trucks of singing stormtroopers,
Hear Rathaus ringing chivalry
Down Residenstrasse’s
Streets to the Odeonsplatz… in their way,
Long line of carbines straining for the fray.

“March with me men!” they step, a roar
Of angry bullets fly,
Hitting the floor, splatter’d in gore,
Bullets graze Goering’s thigh,
While Hitler scampers safely off, & left good friends to die.

Munich
1923


Bolshevik Baton

After your death
It was windy every day
Every day
Anne Carson

Death shadow’d the legend-life of Lenin,
That ceaseless leader-slayer of the Tsar,
Wheel’d slowly thro’ wet woods by Joe Stalin,
Who feeds him ruthless poisons coup de grace;
The man is dead,
But now the god is born,
Drap’d in the Russian red like rosy-finger’d Dawn.

As bonfires warm the freezing square
Queues trail down every side-street,
Breath funnelling the sunless air,
Patiently waiting to meet
The corpse embalm’d, his empire’s heir
Sentinel, stamping feet,
Stands gaurd oer the focus of devotion –
Before him coasted a bear-fur ocean,

To these he gestures for silence,
Voice stylish, loud & clear,
Edg’d with violence, the recompense
Of death thro him did steer,
“We shall make Mother Russia great!” for “Stalin!” thousands cheer.

Moscow
January
1924


Mein Kampf

Everybody must roar his defiance.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Millions of hearts with one mind
Tian Han

The world’s press finds the Blutenburgstrasse,
Beholds a new media sensation,
Some strange, enigmatic insurrector,
Shrieking, “I am the nation’s salvation!”
Thought’s purest prime
Hess summons to his room,
Dictating all the time his stately visions bloom.

The Germans are the Master Race
& over the Earth shall lord,
We must secure our living space
Eastwards with a war-sharp sword,
Where Slavic chaff shall serve our grace
& Sanhedrim abhor’d
Be cut out like the cancer that they are…
Then build a global throne upon the scar!

…But first must come conflict’s dull pain;
The reckoning with France,
Then march to gain Russian champaigne,
Such fertile, vast expanse…”
A warbling lark left both entranced, watching the blossom dance.

Landsberg
1924


Mussolini

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked
Kahlil Gibran

As rivers gently drift along the glen,
Then gather speed & gallop down the falls,
Ceasar is elevated by his men,
Crosses the Rubicon, reaches Rome’s walls;
Sick government
Falls to Fascist control
Whose Black-shirts implement the sounding of his soul.

Ciano left the rush of Rome
To meet his lord & idol,
Strolling about his famous home
Beneath some crumbling castle,
Where playing in the sunswabb’d gloam
A pretty, pig-tail’d girl,
Signori, who is she?” “My youngest child.”
“Her name?” “Edda, already she is wild!”

Il Duce donn’d his sleeping robe,
“My boy I must retire,”
Thick fingers probe the spinning globe,
Rest on his heart’s desire –
The little isle of Malta to connect his black empire.

Rocca Delle Caminale
1925


Squadron-Leader Bligh

I’ll wait for daybreak
and we’ll figure out what to do
with all this sunshine
Harriet Anena

With skilful ease he piloted the plane,
Zooming views under an albescent sky;
Thro’ patchwork carpet snakes the Bognor train,
‘Tween tenements of barley rusk & rye;
Swooping the Downs
Went our stylish flyer,
Oercruising coastal towns, circling Chichester’s spire.

They heard his bi-plane’s buzzing speck,
Propellers eager spinning,
Wing him atop the field to check
If the Old Boys were winning;
He parks his steed, kisses Kate’s neck,
“Let me save the inning!”
“We need a six off the last ball to win!”
Giles Smythe-Tompkinson bowls a wicked spin;

With willow-flash the ball was sent
Beyond the bound’ry rims,
“Huzzahs!” are vent, into the tent
For sandwiches & pimms,
Says Nigel Bligh, “Back to the sky before the evening dims!”

Goodwood
1927


First Waves

My heart is drowning in love for you
I am so proud of you
I pledge my life to you
Sayed Khalifa

Little white cloud-flake breaks a blue spring sky,
While below, in the glittering city,
Sit avant garde sipping martini dry,
The men looking good, the women pretty;
Beneath that cloud
Defeat did drifting fade;
The people laughing loud at this strange street parade.

Men joining hands, chests out-puffing,
Herr Hitler & disciples;
Hawk-ey’d Hess, gorbellied Goering,
Club-footed, dwarfish Goebells,
Himmler completes the inner-ring,
Lord of the Schutzstaffels;
Defended by the brown-shirted SA,
Sensing their time will come… but not today,

For it ends in disappointment,
Like condescending water
The party sent just three percent
From the common voter,
Above them all that little cloud transmorphs to swastika.

Berlin
May
1928


Wall Street Crash

Tents of winds are my home
And stones are my furniture
The cycle of my days is one of curses and misery
Mustafa Seed Ahmed

Young land of a liquor-laced razzmatazz,
Grown richer from the Big War’s victory,
Home to the silver screen & jive-cat jazz,
Flag-waving for global prosperity;
Along Wall Street
Ford motorcades whizz by,
Princeton & Yale compete for share-blocks rising high…

Whose shares, in one black instant fell,
Auguring a global doom,
Strain’d faces yelling, “Sell! Sell! Sell!
Burst the pink bubblegum boom,
‘Twas like some scene from Dante’s Hell
As chaos gript the room,
& thro it all one sharp sound to derange –
The staccato click of the Stock Exchange.

“All dem good times dey be over,”
Serfs cry from shore to shore,
How ruthless the great leveller,
Rich stoopeth with the Poor,
A wicked vortex currencies upsucking by the score.

New York
1929


Der Fuhrer

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing
Where feeble hope could never have flown
Annamacharya

Max Stemmler took Kreuzberg’s mendicant streets,
Epiloguizing dejected fortune,
Each crashing bank long labour’s theft repeats,
Made money might as well be on the moon;
One grey stone wall
New poster burning bright,
Piercing his solemn soul as if ’twere holy light.

Max bought the party newspaper,
Absorb’d it over coffee,
The Voelkischer Beobachter,
Giddying philosophy,
Promises of doing better,
See… today… a rally!
He asks for the bill, “Danke, that was nice.”
“Since you’ve come in coffee doubl’d in price!”

A new Crusade to test the Jews,
None knows just what it is,
Pairs of worn shoes torn into twos,
Scuddle home in phrenzies,
Flogging that dogged gospel to long hopesunk families.

Berlin
1930


Albert Einstein

Prisoners of hope, arise,
& see your Lord appear !
Lo ! on the wings of love He flies
C Wesley

Like some mad prophet this quantum guru
Destroy’d dumb Man’s concepts of time & space,
& was clever enough to sense the Jew
Must face the fury of the Master Race;
He knew full well,
Wahrscheinlichkeit’s the’ry,
Unleash’d ‘Gott in Himmel!’ Atomic energy!

Heart-skipping to the mercedes,
Arm-hugging his Yankee guest,
Mouth-speaking amidst garden trees
Of the e’er enticing West,
When wistfully Albert agrees
To leave the nuptual nest…
“When?” he furrows his Newtonian brow,
Kisses his darling wife & whispers, “now!”

With liquid eyes & drought-dry throat
One most emotive day,
Thoughts all afloat he boards a boat
Bound for the USA,
Those realms of milk & honeydew, three thousand miles away.

Antwerp
November
1932

Canto 42: Swastikas

In the track of great armies there must follow lean years

Lao-Tse


Breath of Evil

I chewed all my dreams
In the fragile bowls
Of our independences,
Charles Ngande

Freya Von Moltke ador’d her husband
As Germany his famous ancestor,
A soul conceptually enlighten’d,
Quite unlike this fright’ning man before her;
Wild animals
Surround him in a pack,
As cinematix swells, breath burns into her back.

Beside a sibbilantine blaze
Stood the district magistrate,
Helmuth onlisten’d with amaze
Leave the Nazis to their fate
Let inefficience stem their craze,”
Splurts Helmuth, “they’ll create
Dystopian catastrophes of doom!”
In burst his wife, like panic, to the room.

“I saw him in the cinema,”
“Saw whom?” “Herr Hitler!” “Him!”
“Our eyes did spar, his dreadful tar
Did coat unquiet, grim,
Dim orbs as dull as stormclouds after sunset on the rim.”

Berlin
January
1933


Chancellor Hitler

Opposite them a peculiar fight
enables the drinkers to lay aside
their comic books and watch with interest
Al Purdy

The old ones in the Reichstag share their fears,
Kabbalic nest of arch-intiguerie,
The Nazis know their day of glory nears,
But not quite yet, no clear majority;
Arms magnate meet,
“That man most warlike seems…”
“Aye, let us fund his feet, & permeate his dreams.”

Charming all the right-wing parties,
‘The front of the Harzburger,’
Plus money from the industries
& Mussolini’s lira,
All Germany he criss-crosses,
Rallying each burgher,
On every side the SA’s numbers swell,
‘Tis better than the jobless carousel.

Soon into power Hitler sworn,
His cause célèbre  won,
Tho’ wintry morn chills to the bone,
He seems a shining sun,
Some prophet like Ezekiel, God with a gatling gun.

Berlin
January
1933


Unter Den Linten

The zealot’s flame deep in the hot brown eyes
That glowed with strange and holy whisperings,
And searched the stars, and caught angelic wings
Alan Sullivan

Hitler breakfasts by the Wilhemstrasse,
Watching the wheels of his private army,
For who possesses Berlin control Prussia,
& those controlling Prussia, Germany!
Beside the flag,
Luddendorf whispers, “This
Accursed man must drag us all down the abyss!

Men drank until the sunset made
A berth for the Evening Star,
Forming a happy cavalcade
Beneath Brandenburger bar,
As if with Bismark to parade
The Kaiser’s spoils of war;
Into the city, under the lime trees,
Ribbons of torchflame flicker’d in the breeze.

“Seig heil! Seig heil! Seig heil! Seig heil!”
Der Fuhrer close to tears,
His stoneface veil torn by love’s gale,
Arms jerk up to the cheers,
“We must build up a Reichland to endure ten hundred years!”

Berlin
January
1933


False Prophets

At noon in the desert a panting lizard
waited for history, its elbows tense,
watching the curve of a particular road
William Stafford

Manchuria the first to feel the force
Of this new spirit, as the Samurai
& all its essence saddles up its horse,
Incendiaries shedding on Shanghai;
As to the Wall
Built by the mighty Ming,
The hordes of Nippon roll deadly & deafening!

Their bespectacl’d Yosuke
Takes the Trans-Siberian
Thro’ Moscow’s hospitality
To the shores of Lake Lucerne,
Hectoring the grand assembly,
Who dares cast the first stone?
To civilise China our troops have died,
But are condemn’d as Christ was crucified!”

Above the ostracizing vote
Yosuke, quite refin’d,
Has donn’d his coat, has clear’d his throat,
We terminate the bind,”
Scrunches up that piece of paper, leaves the stunn’d old League behind.

Geneva
February
1933


Anti-Semitism

An unhappy, evil nation
Treats its victim’s self-oblation
In unworthy fashion
Adam of St. Victor

At the heart of European Jewry,
Fair city of the Rotheschilde’s high finance,
Miff’d Moses Grunfeld dismiss’d from duty,
His former friends purpling with arrogance;
A hiss, a jeer,
“Go scum, go spread the news,
Your kind will not work here, you & your filthy Jews.”

He walk’d (they forced him from the tram)
Into the Jewish boycott,
His heckles up, hands all a-clam,
Some cassirean gauntlet,
Trying to purchase bread & jam
Abuse was all he got;
Up oer orizon swept a storm of tears,
He went to sit with father & his fears.

Gone mournful thro’ the cemet’ry
Between the Jewish graves,
On bended knee, in misery,
Tears streaming down in waves,
His parents’ tomb some spiteful, scarlet hakenkreuz enslaves.

Frankfurt
1934


A New Dictator

with apologies for the inconvenience,
they carefully wrapped barbed wire
round the wrists of the political prisoners
Frank Chipasula

On the dreaded Sturmabteilung men point
Black pistols to their brains, the triggers pull
& spray their brains out wallwards to anoint
The National Revolution from the skull;
That list of doom
Was tick’d off name-by-name,
For these there was no room in Hitler’s grander game,

Where stands he all supreme, the lone
Arbitist of Germany,
Commanding legions from his throne
With a frantic fealty,
Right arms rais’d high they’ll set in stone
Most precious loyalty –
“We swear obedience by holy God,”
Der Fuhrer took each promise nod-by-nod

& christens himself ‘Grand Marshalle’
Lord of all the forces;
Of shot & shell, Alf Nobel’s gel,
Uniforms, field horses,
Tanks, planes, U-Boats, mine-fields, E-boats, fortresses & soldiers.

The Third Reich
August
1934


Death of Anatoly Stiltski

Va! meurs! la derniere heure est le dernier degre.
Pars, aigle, tu vas voir des gouffres a ton gre;
Tu vas sentir le vent sinsitre de la cime.
Victor Hugo

As Phoebus prick’d the dusty harvest haze,
Stalin’s lapdogs surrounded quaint Moshny,
Amid this bastion of the old ways,
Anatoly fear’d for his family;
Ring of cold steel
His wee home’s scape-proof mesh,
Machine-gun muzzles wheel & lacerate his flesh.

While wife & daughter wail & gnash,
His sons weep & thrash in vain,
All toss’d aside like filthy trash,
‘Brethren’ burning long-grown grain…
By slaughter’d cow, like human rash
They stagger’d thro Ukraine
To this city of cold, modern concrete,
Where hunch’d, hungry man-shadows stalk the street.

While pondering in pity’s square
Her kids beg with a song,
Old merchant’s stare soothes their despair,
“Your boys look fit & strong –
Come work for me!” her family timidly tag along.

Kiev
1934


Oaths of Loyalty

It grieves me that thy mild and gentle mind
Those ample virtues which it did inherit,
Has lost. Once thou didst loathe the multitude
Guido Cavalcanti

Heavenly Vale of Operatic Hearts,
Hemm’d in by behemoths huge, hewn from stone,
Those cool, majestic mountains of the Harz,
Witness a soldier of the Aesir born;
An eagle flings
His wings to airy dawn,
As ev’ry treetop sings for chandelier’d dawn.

On receiving the Reich leader
He dismiss’d der Fuhrergaurd,
Offers men of the Third Jager,
Lords of La Haye Saint’s courtyard,
“I have made my men a soldier
Enough to hold Asgard!”
Appeal made to militarizing creed,
Not hopeful gesture… but resolute deed.

Awe trembles as his soul’s captain
The Honour Guard inspects,
Hitler has won his devotion,
Aft’ solemn oath extracts,
His ear is pinch’d & in that instant Rommel’s all accepts.

Goslar
1934


The New Rome

He sins and drinks and gambles
and in a backwards twist of luck
she suffers, fights, and prays
Adela Zamudio

Clutching crude spears & shields of Rhino hide,
Brave tassle-beards defend these lands once free,
Tho’ overhead planes glide cross countryside
Spitting caustic droplets without mercy;
As lethal mist
Poisons their thirsty land,
The will to still resist erodes to sinking sand.

As shadows of Mount Antoto
Drew long over Ababba,
A last, hot flash of bullets flow
From their fearless Emporer,
Chok’d on the hopeless word to go…
Then hail the conqueror,
When Mussolini’s legions, triumphant,
Banish the anguish of late Rome’s lament.

My good people are suffering!”
Tears stain’d Selasso’s eye,
Altho’ the king stands soul-weeping,
The League hangs idly by…
Men melting into mountains underneath a bomber sky.

Abyssinia
March
1935

Canto 43: Circling Ravens

Some to the war, to try their fortunes there

Shakespeare


Hitler Youth

I have thrown way the veil,
I have taken refuge in the great guru
& snapped my fingers at the consequences
Mirabai

Max Stemmler roars along the autobahn,
Palingenetic tribute to contree,
Musing upon the Battle of the Marne,
So close to Paris, & to victory!
He parks the car,
Bear-hugs his eldest son,
“My boy if we must war, with you our battles won.”

Khan dined with peers clever & couth
As his malleable mind
Bombarded was with Nazi truth,
The majesty of their kind,
Carefree below the starry roof
Boys talk’d & laugh’d & dined,
Singing proud songs, so strong & beautiful,
Of Lebensraum & of love of battle!

They run, they swim, they fight, they share
The life of Herr Soldier,
As mountain air rang with fanfare,
They planted Swastika
On summits for the glorious Fatherland & Fuhrer.

Harz Mountains
1935


Fascist March

Crumbled I die
Tortured I die
In innocence.
Albert Kalimbakatha

Sensing a most depress’d & restless Rome,
If Rome, of course, the whole of Italy,
Turning the focus from his forehead’s dome
Towards paths of hypnagogic glory;
A seismic shift
Rumbles before mankind,
His anchor rais’d as drift the lamarckians, blind.

From Erit & Somalia
Marches facinorous creed,
Oer ancyent Abyssinia
Like some martial millipede,
All the churches rang in Pisa
To celebrate the deed,
Of conquerors, their brave & bouyant band,
Gone marching, all, into the promis’d land.

Men thee hail, Haile Selassie!
As Emperor, as King,
The grand Gabbi sends Italy
A message, as they sing,
“Repulse, resist, punish, persist, them from our farmsteads fling!”

Addis Abbaba
October
1935


An Evening with the SS

Tell, Muse, how such treasure came to be at
Wewelsburg & how Himmler kept his Knights
Loyal with blood rituals of genocide
Nicholas Hagger

Oer the Prussian fief of Westphalia
Uprose a gothic, speartipp’d citadel,
Home for an Order, its strange Grandmaster –
Himmler & his infamous Shutstaffel;
Unbridl’d lord,
Far from the chicken farm,
Sharp’ning the Fowler’s sword to conquer Lebensraum.

Young Gerhart Buscher – blonde, blue-eyed –
Deem’d widely the blood ideal,
To long day’s lessons hard applied
His cool, fanatical zeal,
On one fine night, heart thumping pride,
Sat haught at Heydrich’s meal;
An invitation follow’d the supper,
“Come show us your skills with the rapier!”

Baron Von Grolsch made the first play,
Set on him in a flash,
Blades race away, graceful ballet,
Til with an uncheck’d slash,
Stormblasting pain stings Buscher’s brain, cheek splits with spilly gash.

Wewelseberg
1936


Olympic Games

Peace on this planet
Or guns glowing hot,
We lay there together
Jericho Brown

The cavalcade of old Olympia
Settles its sacred flame upon Berlin,
Oer Hindenburg trails an Orphic banner,
Below, even allow’d are Juden in;
Majestic roar,
O scale Wagnerian!
Of modern man at war in his coliseum.

As Jesse Owen took the track
All eyes focus upon him,
Racism hating skinsheen black
Quadruples his vigour’s vim,
A leaping cheetah from the CRACK,
The stadium grew dim;
A whirl of pounding thighs & bursting lung…
How soon, how proud, ‘Star Spangl’d Banner‘ sung.

Quite disgusted grows Der Fuhrer,
The White Supremacist –
Some dog-runner, some dumb nigger,
Wins medals white men miss’d –
Glanc’d at his wrist, hiss’d “I must leave…” blood glist’ning ‘neath clench’d fist.

Berlin
1936


Jewish Wedding

Throttled before
they got the word out,
it must break through
Theodore Weiss

A carriage trundles thro’ soft ribbon fog,
As tho’ a cushion of romantic myst,
The Grunfelds gather’d in their synagogue,
Speechless til Heidi & her husband kiss’d;
A tearsplash floor,
Anna weeps happily,
Joyously crying for yofiful family.

The Rabbi’s household welcomes them,
Full-feasted celebration,
Moses toasts, “Shalom Alachem!”
Franz faithful keeps tradition,
Stamping on glasses, cries, “Lechaim!”
To the Hebrew nation…
As into this sacred ceremony
Brashly bursts & brawling brown-shirt bully.

Worm-filthy mouth spew’d forth abuse,
Breath-stench of bottl’d beer,
“You heard the news, you filthy Jews,
No longer welcome here!”
Scatter platters, romance shatters, batter’d by rattl’d fear.

Frankfurt
1936


The Raven

Your task, O man, is not to carp & cavil
At God’s achievements, but with purpose strong
To cling to good, & turn away from evil
EW Wilcox

From Nurnburg’s grand old Palace of Justice
To notices pinn’d at Hamburg stations,
Hitlerean antisemitismus
Forbids Jewish-Aryan relations;
In deep disgust
Jack Foley boards the train,
Such dirty devil’s dust ingrinds his native grain.

Inside the capital’s bright glow
Jack slides thro’ his embassy,
Plugs in his secret radio,
London warns about Graf Spree,
Contacting corrupt Gestapo,
Mix’d charm with bribery,
Obtaining visa-clutches for these Jews
Waiting outside his room all night in queues.

Onto a pillar by them flies
A bird to perch its flight,
With moonbright eyes, lampooning cries,
He fills them all with fright,
Who watch & wonder what it brings, this thing as black as night?

Berlin
April
1937


Cinematica

The armaments will start their devastations,
And though we’re for it, though we’re all convinced
Some fool will press the button soon or late
John Lehmann

To moving pictures Rita treats her son,
Laughs with the Marx boys, peers upon Pathay –
Smiles straighten with increas’d trepidation,
Her country choak’d on trouble-cloak’d Cathay;
Whoop-whoops & cheers!
Appears their President,
Easing most furtive fears with rhoticless accent.

Sitting beside his homely fire,
He panic play’d down calmly,
“Unto the Japanese Empire
A friendly hand extend we,
Peace ranks beyond War’s thankless mire,
Breathe Peace, breed Liberty;
For all our childrens’ sake Men must forgive,
& build a world where they would want to live”

The Hindenburg lit up the screen,
Cauterized by plasma,
Strange ghostly sheen, strange portents glean
About that swastika….
Like Carlton playing soldiers as they left the cinema.

Jerkwater
1937


Pierre & Veronique

Oh ! for some honest Lovers ghost
Some kind unbodied post
Sent from the shades below
Sir John Suckling

Loiret’s perfect city, rose-fair & sweet,
Deliver’d from the English by the Maid,
Two perfectly-lustred, loving lips meet,
The drudge of harsh realities allay’d;
Wearing life’s youth,
Our spirit’s velvet glove,
They share but one bold truth… to love is to know love!

Pierre carresses Veronique,
Whispers, “Je t’adore ma chere!”
Hands stroking slender, quatchless cheek,
Hers insliding thro’ soft hair,
Watching Communist comrades speak,
Jacquerie fills the square,
Sporting pitchforks & the sickle banner…
“Vite!” gasps Pierre, “We’re late for lit’rature!”

They rush’d into the lecture hall,
Took their shushing places,
The floral roll of Verlaine’s soul
Wove its vernal graces,
While finger-tips touch tingling at poesy’s pretty places.

Orleans
1937


Fascist Knot

Surely the wings that hold,
dark-clasp’d, the mystery of Fate
This moment will unfold
Harold Monro

Hitler receiv’d his conquering idol,
A dazzle of banners & manoeuvres!
Impresses his ‘hero’ with mock battle,
“How like the Spartans march these fine soldiers!”
“My friend please speak
Beneath the Glockenturm,”
The Mai-feld’s bound’ries creak e’en in a Donnersturm.

Wooed Mussolini’s mood unique
Thro’ supper conversation,
“The British Empire has grown weak,
Wrote off the Tscheschienne nation,
Together we shall climb the peak
Of our proper station,
Forcing the course of history’s censor,
Steal victory thro all the pomp of war.”

Two sister nations buck & rise
To ride the wylde warhorse;
First centralize, then march to prise
Thy neighbour’s realms by force,
Then sail in search of empire, letting conquest take best course.

Berlin
November
1937

Canto 44: Appeasement

The new German university has only one law… to serve the intentions & objectives of the Fuhrer & the German people

Hans Heyse


Anschluss

What is it that stirs the heart & mind,
Quietly & insidiously biting deep
Until it is a part of self
Rennie McOwan

Stately & silent mile-high Alpine peaks,
Stand oer the Obersalzburg, far below
By Berchtesgaden’s fairytale antiques,
Goes Doctor Schuschnigg’s car, snicking thro’ snow ;
Now Berghof looms,
How the Doctor trembles,
When moody light illumes Hitler & his gen’rals.

As tyrants try their tyranny
& fly thro’ the high-stakes game;
Alone in Der Fuhrer’s study,
His land in the window frame,
“Austria must join Germany,
The same in all but name,
My destiny forg’d to reunite us,
Oppose us & spill the blood of brothers.”

The Heldenplatz sang joyously,
Their conquerer arose
In victory, “Thro’ you & me
The German Nation grows,
Thou hast a holy mission… guard the Reich from Eastern foes.

Ostmark
March
1938


The Question of Versaille

Alone with God, where no wind blows,
And Death, his shadow – doom’d, he goes :
That God is there the shadows shows
Ebenezer Elliott

Churchill lurch’d from his back-bench wilderness,
Round thickset neck dangl’d the Dardanelles,
Projecting deep resonance to impress
On Parliament of the Fascist perils;
“I prophesise
This Berlin maniac
Has fool’d us to the wise, that man must soon attack!

Let us urge the world to rally
Against this cruel dictator,
How potent the deterency
If we should pool with Russia,
So let us rouse our old country,
Raise historic vigour,
Germany is re-arming at a pace,
We must build air fleets to stay in the race!”

The House laugh’d an indignant laugh,
Chamberlain sat him down,
A telegraph from the Berghof
Pluck’d from his stately gown,
“Mister Hitler is all for peace!” cheers drown the single frown.

London
March
1938


Hitler’s Will

He regards even his tantrums as a sign of strength
He would prefer us to be as water,
To see us stagnating as the bottom of the cup
Mourid Barghouti

Fresh from Rome, with Mussolini’s consent
To begin, ‘gainst Czechoslovakia
His tacit conquest of the continent,
Removing that thorn, that threat to the rear;
He’ll need reasons
To show aggressive hand…
“Blood of the Aryans floods the Sudetenland!”

Touring the regions of the Rhine,
Fawning entourage in tow,
In every heart his star did shine,
To Hades they would follow,
Strolling along the Seigfried line
Musing on Maginot –
Amidst sycophants one precocious youth,
Dares challenge his captain with starkling truth;

We lack the men to firmly man
The whole of this West Wall!”
“Schiesser, we can, we’re stronger than
Both Albion & Gaul,
Their treaty is a sham they have no spine to fight at all.”

The Saar
August
1938


Nazi Party Rally

The German people slumber on
In dull, stupid sleep & encourage
The Fascist criminals.
The White Rose

The second Max Stemmler stept from the train
Saw him thrust into echoistic sea,
Religious fervour proscribing his brain,
His heart leapt up to greet the pageantry;
Great church bells cheer,
“O Lord, ’tis glorious!
Der Fuhrer, he it here! He has come among us!”

Neath nympholepsic fawn fanfare
& eagle-mantl’d banner,
This dreamy, acolytic stare
Of uniform’d stormtrooper,
Paces fulgurant, flament, flair,
Figure-heads together;
Pass by Kongressbau: pulsing; hypnotic;
Enter Zepp’linfeld: writhing; erotic…

…Where oratory masterful
Draws the crowd to climax,
His beautiful, triumphant will
Spits venom at the Czechs,
“Justice for the Sudetenland!” Max faints, a heart’s reflex.

Nuremburg
June
1938


Hitler Moves

If few their wants, their pleasures are but few :
For every want that stimulates the breast
Becomes a source of pleasure when redress’d
Oliver Goldsmith

Distant peals of thunderdrones draw closer,
About the Kehlsteinhaus tough Zephyrs swirl’d,
No wonder, here, delusions of grandeur,
An eagle’s nest perch’d high above the world;
Hitler commands
They’ll drive below the snow,
Wringing his clammy hands, singing, ‘Bring on the foe!’

His villa was the field agreed,
By the piny, mountain wood,
“Sudetenland must be full freed
From spillage of German blood,
It must be NOW! if I must lead
In full stride of manhood,
For never! never! never! shall I yield
Even if Earth becometh battlefield!”

“If you want war why let us come,
Our time wasted I see!”
Adolf struck dumb, a softer drum,
Will the Allies agree
To the seccession?” “Si!” such was that easy victory.

Berghof
September 15th
1938


Paper Promises

I think upon that happy time,
That time so fondly loved,
When last we heard the sweet bells chime
George Linley

Chamberlain Munich leaves with happy mind
“Peace in our time!” proposes off the flight,
Waving a piece of paper Hitler sign’d
Their promis’d understanding not to fight;
Far from his Putsch,
Der Fuhrer snorts a laugh,
“I liked that man so much he got my autograph!”

The men who ‘conquer’d’ Austria
Enter the Sudetenland
Thro’ its wiry, mine-strewn border
Now Der Fuhrer’s to command,
Draughts of heady euphoria
Throughout Sudetan fann’d,
Showering flowers on the infantry
As they march by, & cry for Germany.

Abandon’d by their ‘friends’ abroad,
Betray’d & left naked
Before the sword of Hitler’s horde,
A simple sentence said,
“Today ’tis us, tomorrow you, we live to count the dead!”

Prague
October 1st
1939


A Game of Chess

In the most decent sometimes sun
there is the softsmoke feeling from urns
and the canned sound of old battleplanes
Charles Bukowski

At the heart of Red Empire in the east,
Two pals play the ancyent game of statesmen,
Molotov persists with the Spanish priest,
Stalin moves his knight back to Queen’s Knight One;
Satiated
Of that Ivanic urge,
Content to shuffle wood,  pleas’d with appeasing purge.

Molotov puzzl’d oer the board,
Puffing on a fat cigar
As Stalin’s icy silence thaw’d;
“If tomorrow brings a war,
Tho’ we prefer sickle to sword,
We must prepare to spar :
Tis not long now until Berlin’s advance –
I mistrust Britain but we must court France.

Mother Russia must be ready,
Re-arm our brave young sons,
Transfom each key tractor fact’ry,
Build airplanes, tanks & guns…”
Moves Molotov, “& if they march we’ll slay a million Huns.”

Moscow
January
1939


Conquest of Czechoslovakia

No more, O my spirit,
are we flawless,
we have seen evil undreamt
Hippolytus

The famous Ides of March, der Fuhrer acts,
Imperial intentioning reveal’d,
Tastebuds whetted for better Tscheschienne trachts
He summons Hascha to the battlefield;
Your poor country
Stands friendless & alone,
You MUST sign this decree lest we attack at dawn!”

Von Ribbentrop shaking his pen,
& Goering, bluff for the pot,
Hound Hascha, puffing, round the den,
His temp’rament tired & hot,
Who figgles, faints, revives again
By Morrel’s morphine shot…
Thus half adream in the first flush of day
Soulcrushman signs his poor contree away.

Hitler climbs the Mala Strana,
O sea of swastikas!
Bohemia, Moravia,
His newest provinces,
Gladly kingleading Germany’s rejuvenescenses.

Prague
March
1939


War’s Reality

At times, God, for his own good will,
Gives hell, o’er men and nations, rule;
But Right, though crushed, I hold Right still
PJ Bailey

The scales are falling from Chamberlain’s eyes,
Deceitfulness & ridicule runs clear,
Childish to swallow Hitler’s streams of lies
His regime’s misbeseeming dreams deem near;
“Bright shines hindsight,
‘Tis inevitable,
That man was born to fight, that man yearns for battle.”

As he rose before the members
Certain sections boo’d & hiss’d,
The world is turning serious,
For the German jingoist
Had thought he could deceive us!
But now we must resist,
For only a fool would think, come the hour,
Rise up, would we not, with all our power!”

Von Ribbentrop & Ciano stroll
Thro’ gardens blushing Spring,
Teutonic drawl, “The Poles shall fall
Beneath our battering!”
“You crave Danzig?” “No, we crave war!”… Ciano’s awakening.

Berlin
May
1939