Category Archives: Act 3

Canto 31: La Belle Alliance

But man’s pleasure is a short time growing
& it falls to the ground
as quickly, when an unlucky twist of thought
loosens its roots

Pindar


The Soul of France

Oh, noble grief in the verses free,
Which sound and resound so sincere,
Will you move the feelings of men
Migjeni

Sheltering in the centre of a square,
His loyal First view their leader blankly,
Who, with the terrible rage of despair,
Stand to save the honour of the army;
Outbreaths a sigh
Retiring in all haste,
He left his men to die as on the Russian waste.

Befitting the call of glory,
Steep’d in mystique ’til the last,
Like islands in a raging sea,
Screaming comrades streaming past,
Swarm’d by hussars & infantry
Fought they fierce & steadfast –
Freddie Johnstone pleads them to surrender,
Dead silence feeds the defiant, “Merde!”

“La Garde meurt mais ne se rend pas!”
Twelve cannon pack’d with case
Administer the coup de grace,
Death’s scythe swept thro’ the space,
The soul of the Grand Armee duly vanish’d from Earth’s face.

La Belle Alliance
June 18th 1815
20:45


Happy Meeting

Promise of hope, a bright spark for tomorrow,
That’s who the angel did say was to come;
How can this be when the world’s so uncertain
Bruce Levitan

Tho’ the battle won & Europa saved
Death doubles his efforts as night draws in,
The mortal right to mercy clearly waiv’d,
Frenchmen hack’d down in droves for kinsmen sin;
In joyous rows
Their vanquishers advance,
As Allied pincers close about the throat of France

They meet with a gladsome greeting,
Victorious embrace share,
My prince, that was a damn’d nice thing!”
“Oui, mon duke, une quelle affaire!”
Their triumphant soldiers singing
Stormblasted thro’ the air;
For twenty years the misery of France
Full twenty years of bloody arrogance.

The simple north country farmer
Heard English lyrical,
Crept in terror from the cellar,
Paced his ruin’d castle
Stood forever at the threshfold of a famous battle.

La Belle Alliance
June 18th 1815
21:00


Battle’s End

How some that have died, & some they have left me,
& some are taken from me’ all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces
Charles Lamb

Lone rider cross’d the scene, grave duty done,
Counting the cost of his certain glory,
“Next to a battle lost a battle won
Is the worst thing any captain could see;”
The tears he cry
Whilst whispering wistful,
“I hope to God that I have fought my last battle.”

Mangl’d thousands cover the ground
Like a shipwreck’s rippling sail,
Some dreadful organ piped hell’s sound
While the wounded shriek & wail,
One stumbling, mumbling widow found
Beloved husband pale;
Shadowy ghouls sporting guns, helms & coats
Scavenge for booty, slitting gurgling throats.

Weary the Duke of Wellington,
Bright is the moon & blue,
He trotted on past La Haye Saint
Where one lone eagle flew,
Then glanced his last & turn’d his back on the fields of Waterloo.

Mont Saint-Jean
June 18th 1815
21:30


Napoleonic Fall

Lord, grant, oh grant me thy compassion,
For I in thee my trust have placed;
Display thy wings for my salvation
George Wither

An eagle circl’d La Belle Alliance
‘Fore gliding by the chausee to Charleroi,
Above weaponless warriors of France
Begging madly ‘neath the Prussian hussar;
Nowhere to hide
From Blucher’s vengeful will,
Combing the countryside for fleeing foe to kill.

Oer Genappe the Eagle’s hover
Coldly espied confusion,
An army cramm’d tight together,
Half-craz’d by fears contagion,
Sabres sweep in civil murder,
The tragic illusion
Of one bridge spanning the deep Dyle’s swift flow –
That stream’s tranquil amble, shallow & slow.

For forest flame flew the flyer
To perch by Bounaparte,
Who in the fire saw his Empire
Ashen & wrench’d apart,
Shed tears of loss pulsing from the well of his broken heart.

Bois de Gosselies
June 18th 1815
23:00


Costs of War

Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead
Theodore O’Hara

What journey for a warrior to make,
Attesting to the uttermost ruin
Of age-old foes, in whose rubious wake
Brood these roosting eagles as they come in;
A broken spell,
Pride’s votive gifts defuse,
To live their life in Hell encurses those who lose.

So fall fair France, tho’ ye shall rise
Twice more thro’ this course of wars,
When other demagogues devise
Dark empires, but these not yours,
Instead a complex web of ties
Knotted across thy shores
Shall fight for thee, fight for thy Libertie,
In fields, those keystones of our future free.

All this the Duke could never know
As drifting off to sleep
Names blow-by-blow lame griefs bestow
Him for them all did weep,
Until he sank in thankless dreams… dank, hankering & deep.

Waterloo
June 19th 1815
04:00


Broken Dreams

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years !
I am so weary of toil & of tears,-
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain
Elizabeth Akers Allen

How strange that any man escap’d alive
This sorry scene of carnage incarnate,
An epic pool of death in which connive
The sobbing phantoms of a sword-law state;
While bedlam shrieks
Faces shine bright moonbeams
Upon subfuscous freaks erupting amid screams.

As men bellow their Christian hymns
Or beg to end pain, be shot,
Others untangle scrambling limbs
From a stinking horses knot,
The chance of night’s survival slims,
No pennies for the slot;
When one-by-one, as wounded men expire,
Fell ever, ever quieter, Hell’s choir.

As in light sunrise increases,
Unfolds a tragedy,
Broken pieces, choking ceases,
As life’s finality
Still weeps across that field of foes with woeful witcherie.

The Fields of Waterloo
June 19th 1815
06:30


Death of De Lancey

My sweet companion & my gentle peer,
Why has thou left me thus unkindly here,
Thy end for ever & my life to moan
Abraham Cowley

She sat with silence in the jolting cart,
It’s horses screaming at Death’s awful stench,
Pangs of suspense hang heavy on her heart
‘Til Waterloo, where with a mighty wrench,
Her joys outpour,
Her husband is alive!
Before a cottage door to breathlessly arrive.

She crept into the dusty room
Saw upon a simple bed,
Him waiting for his painful doom,
How miserable there he led!
Her love-light true didst pierce the room,
Bright halo hugs her head –
A feverish vision or darling true,
“Magdalene, darling, is that really you?”

She sat upon a broken chair,
Into his slipt her hands,
With kisses, prayer & tender care
Helpless she watch’d time’s sands
Trickle from life’s glass chamber to the one that Death commands.

Mont Saint Jean
June 19th 1815
17.30


Splendid News

Every church sings its own soft part
In the polyphony of a girl’s choir,
And in the stone arches of the Assumption
Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

The carriage thunder’d oer Westminster bridge –
Eagles poking proudly from it’s window,
Captur’d in the fight for Wellington’s ridge –
To wheel into Whitehall… the horses slow;
Grime-faced major
Brushes the guards aside,
Interrupting dinner, words bursting forth with pride.

“Great & glorious victory!”
Sang Percy to his Regent,
Kneeling upon a bended knee,
“My liberty to present
Twin colours pluck’d with gallantry
From a French regiment;
Representing Napoleon’s downfall!”
Three long hurrahs huzzah’d by one & all.

Trophys display’d to growing throng,
News flew round like lightning,
They skipp’d along awash with song
Singing, “God save the King!”
While wide across the countryside ten thousand church bells ring.

Saint James’ Square
21st June 21st
1815


Treaty of Vienna

The poor is no longer depressed,
See those once discarded resuming their seats,
The lost strangers soon will find rest
George Moses Horton

Once more beneath the moon of Austria,
Men gather in a mutual respect
Readdressing borders of Europa,
But this time cautious & more circumspect;
From them their lies
The fate of future days –
Some seek a merchant’s prize, some seek a monarch’s praise.

Wise Metternich takes centre stage,
Napoleon derided,
The threshfold of the modern age,
His conquests were divided
Tween signatories of this page,
Nation states decided,
& surely to some pre-destined design
The Prussian borders brought up to the Rhine.

For as the great cities of Spain
Founded by Moorish king
& howling, rain-swept hurricane
Whipp’d by butterfly wing,
Battles determine destinies long centuries shall bring.

Vienna
July
1815

Canto 68: D-Day

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born

WB Yeats


Denial & Destiny

The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals.
Just before dawn the dove flew out of the dark
Flying with green in her beak; the dove also had come.
Josephine Jacobsen

Across Ribbentrop’s desk scorches ‘the sixth,
He has the spy sack’d as a dissident,
“Heavy seas must deny that narrow width,
Send out “INVASION IS NOT IMMINENT…”
Generals peel
Their presence from the shore,
Went playing at Kreigspiel, lost in an unreal war.

From the auld Roche Guyon castle,
Duke Rochefoucourt’s stately seat,
Bound a happy, buoyant Rommel
Like the cat who got the treat,
With the promise of no trouble
Drives smiling down the street,
His wife shall get a gift on her birthday,
Those front-line tensions half-a-world away!

Upon the fringes of the Reich,
Fair coast of Normandy,
The Naiad psyche draws Friedrich
To sunset-colour’d sea,
“I am ready,” heart thumping free, “to die for Germany!”

Lion-Sur-Mer
June 5th
1944


The French Resistance

Ye sons of France, awake to glory,
Hark, hark! what myriads bid you rise!
Your children, wives and white-haired grandsires
Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

“Blessent mon Coeur d’une langeur monotone!”
The second half of a Verlaine malaise,
The Herresgruppe obtain’d oer the phone,
“Expect the invasion within two days!”
“If they will come
Then Calais it must be,
No need to beat the drum alerting Normandy!”

Veronique’s Maquis & Pierre,
Gather’d in lip-hush stable,
English newsreaders grace the air,
“The dice are on the table!”
This moment’s majesty they share
Mote profound than fable…
Six patriots switch off the radio,
Then slip into the night to start the show.

Hastening to the sabotage,
Rail-bridge soon river rocks,
Across the stage a pent-up rage
Administers rude shocks;
Resisting, restless regions of down’d pylons, damag’d docks.

France
June 6th
1944


Piercing the Atlantic Wall

From so much opening of my arms
dreaming of the moment in which I will embrace you
they have become stuck in a cross
Pilar De Valderrama

Now entering the end-days of our War,
Grand finale of the Age of Empires,
Long story drench’d in misery & gore,
Now liberty attends to Hades’ fires;
Aft, “Three-two-one,”
Leaps first paratrooper,
Vangaurding invasion of Festung Europa.

Tis night, & the bright moon outglows,
Laird of a silvering scene,
Blossoming from droning shadows,
Drifting earthly-wise serene,
Rows of silken, cloud-burst heroes,
Yclad in Kendal Green –
While ordinary men storm’d the beaches;
Plumbers, miners, doctors, cops & teachers.

Some were fair game to rifle fire,
Others break limbs & backs,
Electric wire, beflooded mire
Extracts war’s brutal tax,
But many men survived the fall to form cohesive packs…

Saint Mere-Eglise
June 6th 1944
01:30


D-Day Dawn

The grand Redemption of degenerate man
Is not a single, independent act,
But one great system
Samuel Hayes

As midnight mists melted into morning
Dull cumulus obscur’d the summer sun,
A soldier greeted dawn with a yawning,
Gaze skipping waves… he tighter gripp’d his gun…
At last it comes,
This is the day of days,
A forest of phantoms prowls spectral thro’ the haze.

Beside him paus’d a French cyclist
Into smoke them both did peer,
Shapes turn to ships, they learn the gist
In a moment’s awful fear
A fateful <BOOM>, the hated fist
Of Britain’s bombadeer
Slamming close by, that frighten’d cyclist flees
As Freidrich Stemmler, now, in horror sees

Lancasters flashing oer the fleet
Some twenty sky-miles wide,
Flocking to mete death & defeat
On Hitler & his pride,
Shouts leaping from a bunker; “Every soldier, get inside!”

Lion-Sur-Mer
June 6th 1944
06:15


Bloody Omaha

Hear the wind moaning –
Oh, hear it blow,
hear the sea’s mocking cry
Murdo Macfarlane

Long lines of landing craft surge twards violence,
Rapping at the ramps like a woodpecker,
Bombastic bullets burnish the silence,
Sarge bellows, “Boys, this sure aint Nebraska!”
Sick trickles free,
Churn’d by the heavy swell,
Men splash into the sea, death welcomes them to Hell.

Each US Rangers LCA
Berths under Pointe du Hoc,
Tho saturated with sea-spray
With ladder & grappling hook,
They clambour up the slipp’ry clay
To deal a new Quebec,
Those ord’nary folk, inching up beaches –
Plumbers, Doctors, Miners, Cops & Teachers.

Lancasters race oer lethal beach
Blasted waste by mortar,
Where yet to reach the bluff, to breach
Holes thro’ awful slaughter,
Men bray by bobbing bodies bloating in bloody water.

Omaha Beach
June 6th 1944
07:30


Death of Freidrich Stemmler

Forget your father;
Forget your mother;
Forget your brothers, kins, and friends
So Chong-ju

Sense stirr’d by the bagpipe’s thrilling muster,
Willing to storm stone bunkers midst the slain,
A rare moment puffs-up Patrick Sumner,
As tho’ perch’d on the Pharsalian plain;
Veterans cast
A vision of Dunkerque,
France meets their feet at last… at last they go to work.

Dusty Friedrich drops down his gun
Hoping quarter, hands held high,
Steps out by a dying Frenchman
& his spike-entangl’d thigh,
Surrenders to an Englishman,
They stood there eye-to-eye…
Tho’ good of soul Pat’s anger fail’d the test,
His rifle raises… piercing panting chest…

Satisfied, the Goddess Karma
Departs the Norman shore,
Where a Sumner slew a Stemmler,
“What did you do that for?”
“One of ’em kill’d mi brother… had to even up the score.”

Lion-Sur-Mer
June 6th 1944
08:00


The Longest Day

Take what they have left
And what they have taught
With their dying
Major Michael Davis O’Donnell

The breath of morning burst between the drape,
Atomies dancing in a budding beam,
Frau Rommel felt a nuzzle at the nape,
Then made love to her darling as a dream;
Coitus fashions
Vestments wrapping soul’s core…
Banging-canker’d passions… Manfred yells thro’ the door…

All the world gains confirmation
That the Invasion was on,
Great & timely operation!”
Pipe the newsmen down London,
“Sev’ral miles of penetration,”
Thought Charlie of his son,
“Longissimus dies cito conditur!”
He told his mother, wife, dog & daughter.

From starry cirque, arcane séance,
Freda’s fair spirit flew
To distant France, her mystic trance
Merges with milky view
Of Patrick resting by roadside, “He’s reyt, ‘ee will pull thro’.’

Burnley
June 6th 1944
17:00


Beachhead

Remembering now that I have left love
tenderness, kind touch of flesh far
in another land far in another time
LW Griffith

Commanders relax upon Augusta,
Sooth’d by the narthex of the evening star,
The bridgehead secured in hard-fought order,
The British beaches linking with Utah;
Confidence high
Replaced the day’s fray’d nerves,
The Allies shall supply the war at those thin curves.

From the beach at La Madelaine
Shall venture Liberty Road,
The mulberries are floated in
With many a bulging load,
Amid the gruff, curse-pepper’d din
These vital piles are stor’d,
Food for the armies of the Alliance,
To fuel their progress thro’ the fields of France.

As Welshmen march’d to Agincourt
& Scotsmen, Fontenoy,
Within this awesome seat of war
Canadians deploy,
To live or die in Europe in imperial employ.

La Deliverande
June 6th
1944


Revenge!

Misfortune, I am misfortune,
& my shadow has betrayed me;
Suffering, I am suffering
JM Bognini

To each Departmente spread a secret smile,
Himmler determines one must soon be wiped,
But done, of course, with certain sense of style,
When every detail of those deaths neat-typed;
Choking cordon
Chain’d by Black Shutstaffels –
Village-dwellers summon’d by sick-chime steeple-bells.

Menfolk maliciously murder’d
Beneath a barn’s beam’d arches,
Whose women & offspring herded
Inside the lamb of churches,
Tram trundles tward the massacred
From nearby Limoges;
It’s occupants harried ‘cross the convex,
Exits seal’d off, some firebrand burns the hex.

Wylde shrieks leap from a holy place,
As rose the devil’s flame,
What witch-wound trace etch’d in the face
Of those who know no shame,
To them bestial savagery is but a bullish game.

Oradour-sur-Glane
June 10th
1944


 

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


Canto 70: Flagellants

If you live among wolves you have to act like a wolf

Nikita Kruschev


Vengeance!

Impaled on the moon,
a boy’s head is banging for justice.
A mother’s harvest blights at noon
Toyin Adewale-Gabriel

They said in the night all the cats are grey,
Suspicion falls on all but his closest,
The ‘coup’ fizzles to naught by close of day,
Its circle of usurping soul-depress’d;
“Ich bin OK!”
Grateful Volk hear his voice,
Providence dost display my destiny her choice…”

Financiers of treachery,
Self-made victims of the plot,
Von Stauffenburg dealt with quickly
For defying the despot,
“Long live our sacred Germany!”
Proud-statured as he’s shot,
I wish you could have seen his dying face,
So free of doubt, weightless & full of grace.

Such a sense of shock’d resentment
Spreads thro’ the German world,
Their Fuhrer sent to them unbent
By traitors’ fury hurl’d,
While fires of the Ragnarok a little higher curl’d,

Berlin
August
1944


Libertie

Is it not better to bear Beauty’s weight,
Hold up your arches, solid as rock,
Than to feed the hearths of the world’s hot hate
Laza Kostić

Aux Barricades! With patriotic surge
Frenchmen are bursting from a new Bastille,
Deep gusts of fresh freedom from lungs emerge,
Each swastika torn down in frantic zeal;
A grim return
Hounds collaborators,
Naked, a la lanterne, spat at by beraters.

One gorgeous day in late summer,
Spiedel, Praetor of France,
Shall defy his master’s order
With an innate elegance
Saves the treasures of the Louvre,
As thro’ the streets advance
Those gutsy guns, those GI miracles,
Kiss’d on all sides by smiling mademoiselles.

Two nations born of human light
Illume the great parade,
A supreme sight, a dream delight,
La Marseillaise is played
No time to rest in revely, off to the front they made

Paris
August 26th
1944


Quaesitors

In this crooked dead end of a bitter cold
They keep their fire alive
By burning our songs and poems
Ahmad Shamlou

Into the solemn Prinz-Albrechtstrasse,
Foul heart of an empire within empire,
Crapulent on the banquets of power,
Men to a curv’d brutality aspire;
In dark & daze,
Behold the secret police,
Their diabolic ways rule an imperfect peace.

Thro’ all the doors of Germany
Slime tentacles penetrate,
Each plotter & his family
Shall face a queasitor’s fate,
Footsteps clunking full heavily,
Blood trickles down a grate,
Men broken by a callousness sublime
Reveal the names implicit in the crime.

Tied to a blood-stained wooden rack,
Sorrowful Stulpnafel,
Screams out as crack cuts cross his back,
“No more!” the bull-whip fell,
“Give me a name you filthy hund,” a whisper, “Herr Rommel…”

Berlin
August 29th
1944


Rousing the Reich

Sampling the possibility of doom
See us searching the papers
Nursing the radio
Shake Keane

Is Paris burning?” huff’d wistful Hitler,
Fat face so pale & puffy, taut & tense,
A grunt as enters General Molder,
It can’t go on, this War is lost…” “NONSENSE!”
Chasing rainbows,
A vision is devised,
For deity still flows & soldier mesmerised.

“Tis time to mobilise fully
All of the land’s resources,
From the workers of Germany
Draw Volksgrenadier forces,
Show iron vein til victory
Rides on Asgard’s horses,
Back to the Reich as the Ultramarxist
Breaks ranks with the Ultracapitalist!

Yes, we shall fight upon the Rhine
As did Fred’rick the Great,
No Nineteen Nineteen shall define
The future German state…”
Sighs Molder, “I shall try again…” for that man was his fate.

Wolf’s Lair
August 31st
1944


Eastern Bloc

It happened in a land of farmers
on Hilly Balkan, far, far away;
A troop of students died martyred
Desanka Maksimovic

Tho’ hate burns under illustrious eyes,
Tito attacks diplomacy’s charade,
His revolution used by the Allies,
Greets Stalin as an old party comrade;
But on his back
Scars of thirty lashes,
Still echoing the crack of those captive thrashes.

Some twenty divisions need we
If Belgrade be freed from yoke,”
“You’ll have an entire company…”
Stalin breath’d out swirls of smoke,
“…Restore King Peter’s regency;”
Tito cough’d on a choke,
“Impossible! the people will rebel!”
Earning Stalin’s respect &, “Very well,

But what if ever the English
Land on a Balkan shore?”
“We would resist, our only wish
Self-ruling, as before;”
“My friend, we must frustrate the West when we have won this war.”

Moscow
September
1943


Death of Rommel

I shall go back
to the formless clouds
& melt myself into rain
Jared Angira

Two automons knock’d on a legend’s door,
Charging their target with highest treason,
But.. for his services throughout the war
Der Fuhrer has permitted him poison;
Serenity
Succumbs his famous wits,
“Speak with your family, but for fifteen minutes!”

He told his wife of his life’s debt,
Embraced his beloved son,
Donn’d old Afrika Korps jacket,
Attach’d Field Marshall’s baton,
She was nobility, & yet
She wept when he was gone,
Away into the forest & his fate,
Car halts, his captors leave the car & wait…

By seat-slump’d star these pale drones stand,
Now Rommel ‘gan to cry,
Death by the hand of one’s own land
So hard,” stripp’d of all pride,
He wheez’d his last, closed gemmy lids, thought of his wife & died.

Swabia
October 14th
1944


Last Days of the Reich

And this is the crisis-point
The twilight moment between
sleep & waking
Chirstopher Okigbo

Some vale East of the Lakes Masurian
Bleak Prussian homesteads clad in sober grey
Refuse to flee in face of the Russian
Though murder is the order of their day;
Huddl’d in song,
Shells smash through cottage wood
Slaying a peasant throng, soil drinking native blood.

Throughout the Nazi satellite
Roam doubters for eversion,
Bulgaria gives up the fight,
The Baltic states beseigen,
Finland leaves Hitler to his plight
As the Romanian
All land & liberty to Stalin yields –
Seizing the vital Ploesti oil-fields.

How darkly disgusting is war
When war’s ways rumble home,
The drumbeats are frightful afar,
The Volk of Berlin’s Rome
Crucified… an Appalachian Way of the Reichstag dome.

Germany
August
1944


Market Garden

I’ve stopped under the bridge
I haven’t been able to continue
The rain is falling
Miguel James

The drive resumes to claim fortress Holland,
But three bridges to seize by land & air,
For many miles the rich offensive spann’d
Thro bright Autumnal weather fine & fair;
Ah! best laid plans,
Shatter’d spears, batter’d helms,
As optimism pans ailing thro defeat’s realms.

Operation Market Garden
By cross’d bazookas pounded,
White seeds of the Dandelion
Soon outgunn’d & surrounded
Beyond the bridge at Njimagen
Hopes of relief flounder’d…
Procuring death, sad flora of the field,
Yet still these hardy Tommys shall not yield.

Mutual respect runs to confound
The hatred born of war,
The streets around this killing ground
An ill-starr’d bridge too far,
For those whom survived Stalingrad the foe fought on a par.

Arnhem
September 25th
1944

Hungarian Questions

Shut tight your eyes! See nothing at all!
Turn yet paler! And, resigned,
Throw your arms around a greater cross!

Florbela Espanca

Hoffa tries to broker a sep’rate peace,
His rats shall leave the sinking Axis ship,
Hitler’s furies fresh treacheries release,
Sending reserves to reaffirm his grip,
Motor’d across
Pannonia’s wide Plain,
Racing t’avert the loss of all that blood & grain.

At Captain Skorzeny’s command
The auld citadel attack’d,
Thro’ weaking guards his elite band,
Passage pecking schmeissers hack’d,
He strode upright, took Hoffa’s hand,
“Your statement you’ll retract…”
Then gave a speech when all the shooting ends,
“We are not enemies but loyal friends.”

“Hungary fights to the finish!”
Faith restored Zapolyan,
“We have one wish, your Jew rubbish…”
Hoffa leant twards Eichmann…
“Yes?” “You must give them all to me for their expurgation!”

Budapest
October
1944

Canto 71: Total War

I bow in front of the victims of this monstrous crime
Joachim Gauck


Autumnal Blood

Should the worst come to the worst
Should we be overpowered by our foes.
Our bodies shall lie on the field of battle
Mangaia

Eisenhower clutches his purple hearts,
With Axis soldiers murder’d as they stood,
Rapid progress reduced to fits & starts,
Bogg’d down by Autumn’s dirge of rain & mud;
Most precious oil
Trickles from port to front,
As onto German soil the first assault troops shunt.

Thou art Hell, once verdant Hurtgen,
Thy primeval forestry,
Watches lion dedication,
Men embattl’d dev’lishly,
The German spirit’s bolster’d iron,
Flaking young-gun Yankee;
Harsh-fated rules amidst thine ancyent bark,
The going brutal & the killing dark.

Each liquid roads, each pile of snow,
Each booby-trap ambush,
Has stemm’d the flow, strange vertigo
Dizzies the Allied push;
His front safe-clos’d Hitler withdraws the Panzers in a hush.

Ardennes
November
1944


A New Mission

The sun sips the sky until it is drowning.
I am circling my prey.
If I am strong, the world will finally let us be.
Kamikaze Death Poem (anon.)

The Japanese air officer appears
Afore young pilots fresh-faced & alive,
“We’re looking for some special volunteers
To fly a mission no-one could survive:
One possible
Answer of three impart,
‘No,’ ‘Yes,’ & ‘Yes, I volunteer with all my heart.’”

Taken aback them were, of course,
Who’d wanna be a gonner?
But when night fell, floods forth in force,
Thought-phantoms of dishonour;
His mother’s tears, his father hoarse,
“Why bestow this on her?
A coward for a son!” in fitful dreams
Apocalyptic visions stuff’d with screams.

Out of the forty who awoke
“Yes…” answer’d thirty-nine,
The other bloke they push & poke,
While forming in a line,
Zeletic alcestissians for Yosukini’s shrine.

Tokyo
December
1944


The Last Wolf

Ez for war, I call it murder,-
There you hev it plain an’ flat;
I don’t want to go no durder
James Russel Lowell

A fleet of thirty Lancasters takes flight,
Cocksuring with latest technology,
When wee computers, supporting bombsight,
Keen-measuring wind-speed velocity;
The sixth hour nears,
Below – in Tromsoe fiord –
The matchstick ship appears, each pilot pulls the cord,

Dropping bombs ever precisely
On the long-sought for Tirpitz,
Who shudders with Hellish fury
Neath an unrelenting blitz,
This fairest princess of the sea
Struck by convulsive fits,
Slipping into the icy, bubbling foam –
Above, applauding Britons turn for home.

This last pride of the High Seas Fleet
Lies, rust-meat, under waves –
Awful, complete, total defeat,
Dead in their ocean graves,
This challenge to Brittania ends like Trojan architraves.

Norway
Dec 12th
1944


End of the Affair

When I was a young shoot & curious
my heart was set on this world;
my evil deeds will make me die soon
Palau

Twyx keen lambitus & deft fellatrice
Two lovers groan in gushes, while outside
Shuffle shadow beings until decease,
Monotonous, inescapable ride!
With coital flame
Slowing with fierce fondling
They go to play the game of sonderbehandling.

Anna Grunfeld stood a statue
As dawdle her inspectors
Along the lines, where two-by-two,
Arbitary, capricious,
The weakest lookers pay their due
In this evil, viscious
Infestation of every human sin,
When ‘special treatment’ just a rubbish bin!

The two new vernals caught her eye,
She had her wicked way,
A startl’d cry, a heartfelt, “why
Touch Juden filth, & gay!
This trysting is kaput!” hiss’d the disgusted Mengele.

Auschwitz
December 16th
1944


Battle of the Bulge

Let the shell fragments
howl past more often,
random death roam free
Sergey Narovchatov

The Allies stand at Germany’s threshfold,
Hitler denudes defences in the East,
Inspires his troops with the gusto of old,
Once more the grand gods of battle may feast!
Thro’ the Ardennes
Trail miles of martial queues,
Fresh aircraft, tanks & men, “To Antwerp & the Meuse!”

Fog drowns the leaves, the ice breeze chills,
Vee-Twos trail fiery blazes,
Thro’ twisted vales, ‘neath snow-capt hills,
Trundle hundreds of panzers,
No vernal cluster’d Daffodils
Comforting the soldiers
Attacking tanks cunctatorially –
How different from triumphal ‘forty.

The petrol dumps are blown sky high,
Fury’s depleted use,
Their fumes suckt dry the Panzers sigh
Beside the milky Meuse,
Yearning for famous victory, alas the Fates refuse.

Dinant
December 22nd
1944


Poker Game

How did you pass thro’ cobalt wood
Thro’ shrouds of white, to reach the sneer
Where fat hyenas feast on blood.
Amjad Nasser

Yuletide passes by & yet no victor;
Saint Nicholas delivers golden gift
To the Allies, the skies gleam clear weather,
Reflected by the bright, white snowsome drift;
Farenheit’s fall,
The GI grows colder,
Shouts, “Fire in the hole!” Angels on his shoulder

Go about their deadly business,
Wreaking murder far below,
Piles of presents sent for christmas
Lie unopened in the snow,
For nearby these frozen corpses
These gifts will never know
As all about the Fuhrer’s grand design
But a spent promise broken on the line.

All-in for the Fascist menace,
Three aces… world grows hush,
Hitler’s grimace, the other ace
Flipp’d for a royal flush,
The Allies claim the bulging pot, upon three sides now push.

France
December 27th
1944


For Japan

We didn’t see our dead,
Who rarely bothered coming home to die
But simply stayed away out there
Howard Nemerov

How light the hearts of men summon’d to die,
The time to please the Emperor soon come,
Pride forms blue spinning crystals in the eye,
Serene as the floating chrysanthemum;
From Kyushu
To Soya-Misaki,
Tojo’s warmongers drew their lethal infantry;

Then pour’d them thro’ the harbour quays
Filling the honeycomb caves,
The Kimigayo on the breeze
Superpatriotic braves
Heard strange whisperings in the trees
As mad kannushi raves,
Ambitious lilies adventing the storm,
Not long to go before the war comes home.

Basho climb’d gorgeous Mount Shuri,
Open’d his heart & pray’d
For victory, his great army
Snoozed in the evening shade,
Waiting to be awoken & to draw the Empire’s blade.

Okinawa
January 1st
1945


Death of Frau Stemmler

Within our life these sorrows we contain
Uncertain days, yet full of certain grief;
In number few, yet infinite in pain
Christopher Lever

Karolina gazed on beautiful spires,
Medieval majesty up-streaming,
Untouch’d by this damn’d war’s destructive fires,
The World of old all dazzling & dreaming;
Her cousin Klaus
Meets her at the station,
Soon in a coffehaus flows good conversation.

Bligh flew over Franconia
Where the targets drew in sight,
Dyak temple of Der Fuhrer
One moment before midnight,
From the belly of his bomber
Drops the poor people’s plight…
A grey deluge of terror from the skies,
Frau Stemmler cursed Herr Hitler as she dies.

As ghastly Magdeburg suffer’d
This city too knows hell,
Bligh glides his bird & at the word
Load added to the swell,
A far cry from gallant ‘forty this slaughter ariel.

Nuremburg
Jan 2nd
1945


The Anonymous Soldier

I find no peace, & all my war is done,
I fear & hope, I burn, & freeze like ice.
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise
Sir Thomas Wyatt

In a storm, in a blizzardsong of snow,
A soldier huddles from a distant land,
Where purple sands of desert heave & blow,
& nomads drink the vines of Samarkand;
This frozen waste,
This landscape alien,
Encas’d the great displac’d races of gravesent men.

They knew him thro’ the regiment,
Tho’ none his name remember’d,
A shell, of elevation spent,
Beside his neck descended,
& blew up like a lava vent,
Cruelly dismember’d
His torso stood upon two bleeding knees,
Legs in the bushes, arms up in the trees.

Once he was his mother’s darling,
But now he’s blown to bits
Cursing the King of Everything,
The Devil’s glamourglitz,
Lock’d in wars of Good & Evil, when Destiny permits.

Russia
January
1945

Canto 72: Debilitations

People had become dehumanised. They were like animals, urinating & defecating wherever they were. I somehow didn’t react to the bodies, I had seen carnage galore during the war. But to see human beings walking around without any sense of dignity, that was utterly appalling. And that smell has lived with me to this day.

Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown


Defeating the Wehrmacht

‘Tis true, ’tis day; what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise, because ’tis light?
John Donne

Men shuffled thro’ the snow with frozen feet,
Beshawl’d as hags, thick whiskers wire & grey,
The gamble fail’d, an army in retreat,
Avoiding another bloody Cannae;
As in the East,
To the cruel Katyusha,
Hordes of Russkis releas’d across the Vistula.

It was less offensive action,
More the milt’ry parade,
As Berlinwards marches Russian
With the Saragozan maid,
Narr’eyed avengers talion
Primal instinct obey’d,
Zhukov commands the Mazovian plain,
The Wolf’s Lair now diminish’d of Wolfsbane.

With freedom of the world at stake,
With Wolves of war abroad,
Riding the Snake the Russians take
The Moscow-Berlin road,
Racing on hated enemies to put them to the sword.

Warsaw
Jan 12th
1945


New Normal

What is’t to toil amidst the din of war,
To talk of honour, or a dreadful fear,
To live on hope, the shadow’d best we have
Joseph Badworth

A rumbling drone, reminiscent of Hell
Grows louder when the front lines sag & crack,
Posnaniensis desolately dwell
Where roads of Reich & progress cul-de-sac;
Shop windows all
Display fray’d cardboard goods
While on the farmer’s stall just sickly looking spuds.

The solitary cafe sold
Ersatz unpalatable
The only cinema did hold
Heimatfilms sentimental
This last one now some three months old
But life had grown so dull
That still to these unheated seats they drift
To watch again with friends when ends the shift.

As one departs the populace –
By handcart, horse & hand
Pans, matresses, sacks, suitaces
Plod in a gypsy band
Sie gaben ihr leben for Fuhrer, Volk & Vaterland

Posen
17th January
1945


Bastards

We are very slightly changed
From the semi-apes who ranged
India’s prehistoric clay
Rudyard Kipling

This War’s final dramas know no pity,
Satanical eupraxia all sides,
Effluviums of mass’d virility
Swarms from the east to sieze its nightly brides;
Libidos thrust
On peach-ripe alabasters
Eyes like spring skies ’til lust claws girls to their ‘masters.’

Thro’ cellars, barns, the came in queues,
Deflower’d ev’ry petal,
Stenching of cigarettes & booze –
Under each boiling kettle
This harrowing from hell renews,
When the harsh pains settle
Some bled to death, some hang themselves from trees,
Some sang a heimatlider on raw knees.

& some shall bear a bastard child,
Eyes so slightly slanted,
One mother styl’d her night defil’d
That her boy implanted –
Her little miracle of that lifetime’s wish Godgranted.

Wartheland
January
1944


Desperations

Despair is texture; without it
We should not know how to face
The thing with such certainty
John Silkin

Tho’ shehila stay’d, these breathing corpses,
Dancing attendant to the Kapo’s stick,
Are oft’ selected to please the doctors…
Young Ludwig gains six inches with a brick;
They pass him by,
Clutching a surgeon’s knife,
A joyous, silent sigh… another day of life!

If you’re content with a little
Enough’s as good as a feast,”
But poor Joseph drops his kettle
& could not digest the yeast,
Gracile bones huckstering brittle,
As flesh bore he the least,
Today the guards would bundle him away…
Ludwig sits down to pray where last he lay.

The rumble of the Russian hosts
Murmurous daily near,
Like phantom ghosts the gibbet posts
& ovens disappear…
When rainbow stars are driven off to march the snowy fear.

Auschwitz
Jan 20th
1945


A Futile Plea

Look at me, & I look back;
you have eyes, but I have none;
you may speak, but I am speechless
Socrates

Clock running out, work left, the secret police
Boost every effort, hypermotile burst,
Wedging dirt within each petrean crease,
From secret hiding bases unimmers’d
Men crawl into
Custody protective,
Helmuth Von Moltke too, pensively reflective.

Drap’d in her finest furs, Freya
Visited Heinrich Mueller,
Himmler’s heir; they talk’d together,
I’m afraid we can no longer
His most famous name consider,
But there will be no torture –
& Frauline!” “Yes?” “When all this is over
Do come back to us…” her smile hid terror,

Thro’ sheer heart’s love, the whole world crash’d
About her in a spin,
The Justice dash’d off inky flash’d
Sentences of death, in
That paper pile stew’d noble name, cook’d in a loony bin.

Tegel Prison
January 23rd
1944


Landsturm

Woe, woe, unto the fallen city !
Where are thy streets,
Thy towers
Johann Sigurjonsson

Max Stemmler requisition’d by Goebells,
Reich-remnant summon’d to the Prussien,
Oathsworn to resist in bloody battles
The brainwash of the Bolshevik Russian;
His sons were dead,
Them martyrs in his eyes,
Blessing the blood they bled he dons the Jager’s guise.

No rhyme nor reason could explain
The thrall of the Nazi hymns,
Tho’ zest of Hitler’s early reign
Now death’s gory paroxyms,
When loyalty could still ordain
Stepping into chasms…
The GI’s pierce the gloomy atmosphere
With an unanswer’d, “What we doing here?”

Survival’s trivium, of war,
An old man grown full sick,
Thro’ shatter’d door he’d seen before
Torn poster clung to brick,
‘All this we owe to der Fuhrer!’ he laughs all lunatic.

Berlin
February 3rd
1945


Cold War

It has been raining, but the rain
is done & the children kept home
have begun opening their doors
Robley Wilson

The Big Three meet in reconquer’d Crimea,
Churchill, ailing Roos’veldt & the Georgian,
An august body stately & austere
Discussing this thorny Polish question;
As the Allies,
Grand sharers of the cost,
Inquire thro’ narrow’d eyes, forged friendships freeze & frost.

“Surrender unconditional;
Come fin’ adest revum…”
“Born of order’s calm revival;
Status quo ante bellum…”
Tho’ the bloodlust soon to settle
Still Stalin beat the drum,
“Shoot fifty thousand gen’rals out of hand
To cleanse the devil from the dark Deutschland!”

Churchill gestured with the fury,
Iniquitously rack’d,
“You would kill me ‘fore I’m parley
To such a savage act!”
Such idealistic diff’rences do seldom merge in pact.

Yalta
Feb 13th
1945


Peacemongers

Thus one acquires a taste for disaster
& looks for the daily paper’s headline.
Seeing misfortune’s influential astral
Raymond Queneau

As the head of Air Section, Bletchley Park –
A Jew call’d Jim Rose – phon’d the ministry,
He realised how much kept in the dark
Was his role in murd’rous copartnerie;
Enigma’s gains
Now used to justify
Beeswarms of deadly planes, fraught Furfurs of the sky.

“But Dresden’s baroque & beautiful,
Not a threat to anyone,
Please don’t bomb rococo rubble
As with poor Beethoven’s Bonn!”
Bomber Harris burst his bubble,
“Man, nothing can be done –
We’ll do the city as a transport hub…”
Rose slamm’d down the handset, slink’d thro’ the pub,

Flopp’d in his seat, sipp’d his thick stout,
Then stood up at the bar,
Lungs spurting out unearthly shout,
“How lucky we all are!”
Now slamming doors he runs outside & roars off in his car.

Fenny Stratford
February 12th
1945


Dresden

What wrath of Gods, or wicked influence
Of Starres conspiring wretched men t’afflict
Hath powr’d on earth this noxious pestilence
Edmund Spenser

Squadron Leader Bligh completes his home run,
Now Archie Day so he may fray again,
For if he were once more fell’d from the sun,
The network might he yield at torture’s pain;
Taking control
Of brand new Wellington,
Perform’d he pinpoint roll & join’d the formation.

Skimming the cloudrealm wing-to-wing,
Fokker flights well push’d aside,
The ack-ack air a-shuddering
Brutal bombs fell far & wide,
The noble art of murdering
Efficiently applied…
Streets & churches with bleets of terror fill,
A rare few reach the safety of the hill.

As ghastly Magdeburg suffer’d
Each city shares its hell,
Guiding steel bird, at calous word
Bligh’s load adds to the swell;
Far cry from gallant ’40 these cold slaughters ariel.

Germany
February 13th
1945

 

 

Canto 73: Endgame

Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick & sad.
From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.

Chief Joseph


Death March

Through these pale cold days
What dark faces burn
Out of three thousand years
Isaac Rosenburg

The stripes are march’d across the killing ground
Men call Eingost, strong shoulder’d Pharisees,
Tough Etta Grunfeld in despairs is drown’d,
Infelicific, fracking on nick knees;
Her Anna gasps
& tries to help, in vain,
“Keep moving!” grey guard rasps & blows out Etta’s brain.

Ragged, skeletal, stagg’ring, train
Lurches yon Yankee bomber,
Hungry as wolves, in constant pain,
As minutes last forever,
Wraiths in the wicked snow & rain
Tragedize together,
As defalcations rake the ill-condemn’d,
Snaking to what could only be their end.

From town-to-town two worlds collide,
Houses of ginger-bread
All warm inside, a mother cried
She’d witness’d children dead:
The Volk, at last, forced to account, truth cacodyllic spread.

Germany
February
1945


Iwo Jima

We are the little men grown huge with death.
Stolid in squads or grumbling on fatigues,
We held the honour of the regiment
Alun Lewis

A roar of morning shellfire shakes the seas,
Milters from Japan swarm ever-willing,
A whisper flaps unhappy on the breeze,
“Today is a good day for the killing;”
The oceans calm,
Beside an ashen isle,
Young soldiers sing a psalm along that final mile.

In swept each toughnut marine wave
To tread this rock volcanic,
Swarming for glory or the grave,
Went murdering mechanic,
Yard-after-yard their poor foes gave
With increasing panic,
The victory rose up for all to see,
The Stars & Stripes high on Surribaci!

Altho’ defeated, for Japan
Sons shall not surrender,
With loud elan each proud cave-man
Dies for his emperor,
Yes, dies a noble warrior, with loyalty & honour.

Iwo Jima
February 23rd
1945


Setting Sun

These are dead faces.
Wasps’ nests are not more wanly waxen
wood embers not so greyly ashen
Herbert Read

Eph’meral empire nears obsolescence,
The Towers of Tenshu straddle the sky,
As Tojo arrived for his audience
The pale moon sang a sunset lullaby;
Hurrying thro’
An iron-studded gate,
The evening hours, he knew, drew heavy with their fate.

Out of the southern, darkling sky
Silver Superfortresses,
Like eagles hunting from up high,
Rain’d doom upon the masses,
How many children have to die
Til their fury passe;
Tokyo like a paper lantern burns.
Of war’s true horrors the emperor learns.

As they watch’d the flames & flashes
To raging maelstrom fann’d,
Into ashes, stonework crashes
Tojo rais’d fisted hand,
“When sacred nations combat on they’ll heed honour’s demand!”

Mount Karvizawa
March 10th
1945


A Frightened Cow

A tight and chiming string
that resounds to anything—
a single stroke or evil blow
Ivan Vazov

Faerievolktown twinkles by Toder’s stream,
Some medieval El Dorado
Of handsome gates & cobblestreets, a dream
Of happy greetings each alborado;
Who’d ever thought
They’d bomb such an idyll –
Blare sirens! Cellars sought! Rilke grabs his fiddle

For to play a gentle ditty,
Children shuddering each thud
Of Ninth Air Force barbarity,
Murdering, they thought, for good,
Plundering with impunity
& sapping streets of blood,
Then back to base… emerging children ‘wow!’
As thro’ the Marketplatz storms frantic cow

With horrified, unhappy eyes
& burning at the tail,
Where cindersizing dragonflies
Flew thro’ the smoky trail,
When one-by-one, dewonder’d, kindergartens start to wail!

Rothenburg
March 31th
1945


Crossing the Rhine

he left that smell behind
it would barely linger by the time
he reached his destination
Emelihter Kihleng

As roofless, star-mark’d jeep screeches to halt,
Georgie spits out globule of cigar phlegm,
“Boys!” he address’d his American salt,
Find ’em, fix ’em, fight ’em & finish ’em!
An ounce of sweat
Worth a gallon of blood,
Always audacious, get to grips, give it ’em good!”

As generals love glory true,
The Third Army’s matador,
Instils LUCKY, his plucky crew,
With rampant passion for war,
The Third Army’s matador,
“Advance over, under or through!”
Reaching Remagen’s shore
A rail-bridge claim’d worth more than weight in gold,
Battles won by the brave, Wars by the bold.

Patton pauses upon the Rhine,
Perches on pontoon plate,
Arches his spine, piss flows like wine,
Hissing with pent-up hate…
Zips up his fly, claims th’eastern bank to slay the Kaiser-state.

Emmerich
April 2nd
1945


Empirical Regrets

But these paperbacks are crumbling in my hands
seachanged bouquets, each brown page
scribbled on, underlined & memorized
Michael Donaghy

‘Twas always weltmacht oder niedergang,’
Mus’d eminent attorney on the rocks
Above his bombshell mansion, where once sang
His sister princesses, him the princox;
Epiphany!
Dark mirror of mankind
Destroy’d poor Germany that decade he’d spent blind.

As we make our vows of substance
In the moments of defeat,
Let us never let the patterns
Of such diabol repeat,
Heed the laws of ancyent Athens,
Drag tyrants from the street,
Then string these up before them killers turn
Of little kids, burnt futures for the urn.

Tho’ wealthy, jewel-school’d, well-bred,
Just now he’d realiz’d,
& shook his head for all the dead,
Der Fuhrer recogniz’d
Not as his lord & saviour but a toad to be despis’d.

Leipzig
April
1945


White House

In America
The highway runs too fast
For men to feel the ground underneath
Femi Fatoba

The blood of good men stains Okinawa,
The President prepares to share their fate,
Into the air that soothes the state of Georgia
His life’s last breaths wheeze out with gremlin grate;
He coughs, complains
Of headaches terrible,
As mighty spirit drains… & bows & leaves battle.

Being flesh & mind a human
But in stature an oak tree,
Lampadephorian Truman
Homelands his Presidency,
The ultimate American
To rule thee sensibly –
& what a time to take that foremost seat;
The Axis Powers verging on defeat.

A heads-up held behind closed door,
“There’ll be a new weapon
Ready in four months,” sat in awe
(How else would one listen),
“If it saves lives… shortens the war… then say I… yes… go on.”

Washington
April 12th
1945


Death Camp

They turn the water off, so I live without water,
they build walls higher, so I live without treetops,
they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine
JS Baca

If this is life then life should welcome death,
Thousands of abject shapes dull wraithdom tread,
Despair & typhus pungent on the breath,
Grey, ghastly heaps & gutters full of dead;
Bestarv’d of meat,
To stay his certain end,
A priest prepares to eat the dead flesh of his friend.

As one the rough guards up & leave
Just before GI’s arrive,
Whose haunted eyes could ne’er believe
Stick-like rakes are still alive,
All that these green lads could achieve
Was feed those who survive,
Strangurious skeletons; skin stretching
Thin; what moans… what spectres… & what retching.

As Anna show’d her slump’d nephew
To Carlton Dillinger,
All blotch’d & blue, “What can you do?”
“Mam, I ain’t no doctor…”
Ludwig spasm’d… died… cried she for all of them together.

Belsen
April 16th
1945


Hitler’s Birthday

The forests burn from Dresden as far as Berlin itself.
The earth is cracked as if in an inferno,
As if in an inferno the clay smoulders.
Semen Gudzenko

Entomb’d in the sad swansong of his time,
Arcanum Fuhrerbunker, quetzal claws,
As geocentric wolkenkuck-kuck-sheim,
Projects the acute virtues of his cause;
While strangers wage
The Wars he brought to Earth
In this Aegyptian cage they’ll celebrate his birth.

Tho’ across him hangs a shadow
He invokes the ‘Good old days,’
“For he’s a jolly good fellow!”
The sober jamboree raise,
Soon complexion yields to sallow,
By him but one soul stays…
His little siren, the lovely Miss Braun…
He orders scorched Earth policy by phone.

He exhales with the exstasi
Of fearsome syphilis,
“For without me this Germany
Must certainly perish…”
Outside the comfort of those rooms stretch’d bleak necropolis.

Berlin
April 20th
1945

Canto 74: Victory in Europe

The victor will not be ask’d afterwards whether he told the truth or not, in starting & waging a war it is not right that matters, but victory

Adolf Hitler


Veteran

I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier,
I brought him up to be my pride & joy,
Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder
Piantadosi & Bryan

Teethsinking hoarfrost left Siberia
Coating the country of the whining shout
Floating from volksempfanger reciever
Whom secret sniggerings call Goebell’s snout;
A call to arms;
For Fuhrer, land & God,
Leave factories & farms, embrace vaterlandstod.”

Emerg’d Wolfgang with decision,
He should defend his city,
The sacrifice of World War One –
Incalculable pity –
Must something mean, a gun’s a gun,
Trenchtrain’d ability
Against the French & English felt ingrain’d,
Yes, he shall fight while breath in him remain’d.

Eating kohlsuppe from a mess tin,
Wolfgang clean’d his spectacles
Thro’ flames & din the foe rush’d in
Remembering the drills
He points & fires his panzerfaust – tank kills, blood spills, old thrills!

Berlin
April 25th
1945


Death of Il Duce

Gone is all that former glory
Relics of it ever glow
In the colors of the rainbow
Akaki Tsereteli

As paths of glory lead but to the grave,
On haunted men past deeds a heavy load,
Beside the beauty of the Como wave
Rough partisans blockade the convoy road;
Suspicions storm’d!
Amid the gen’ralry,
Luftwaffe uniform’d, dirty Mussolini!

After a brief & angry trial
Weeping Ceasar swiftly shot,
Then driven from that Alpine pile
To be strung up at a spot
Where hungry subjects could revile
His corpse as it did rot…
Piss’d on & spat at & hurl’d with abuse,
Full twenty years of torments letting loose.

She steps into Loreto square
Next to a cursing nun,
Her angry stare turn’d to a glare,
She aims a stranger’s gun
& shoots that bastard man five times, once for each murder’d son.

Milan
April 29th
1945


Death of Der Fuhrer

Then thy dead engine & thy broken wings
Drooped through the arc & passed in fire,
A wreath of smoke – a breathless exaltation
DC Scott

Determin’d not Il Duce’s fate to share,
He sets to his own life unrepentant
From power’s height unto a dream despair,
A dictator dictates his testament;
Herr Hitler hiss’d
(His customary mode),
“Global Jewry resist! Uphold the racial code!”

After simple ceremony
Two true lovers proved as one,
But one hour of matrimony
‘Til her husband clutch’d his gun
& stepp’d into eternity…
She, swallowing poison,
Plants tender kisses on his fingertips,
“My darling!” last words slip from dying lips.

Men paus’d awhile before the sight,
Dowsing them in petrol,
Coupl’d alight, firedrakes in flight,
O Viking funeral,
A captain of a sinking ship, a king lost in battle.

Berlin
Mayday
1945


Collapse of the Reich

Governors! Ministers! You who prate
That war & ravage & wreck must be
To save the nation, avenge the state
Angela Morgan

Only Goebells would join his god in doom,
The Nazi magick sever’d from it’s source,
The rest, like rodents, scurry thro’ the gloom,
Whose single light commands a brave, white horse;
Great Zhukov sits
Proudly in the saddle-
What majesty emits from such Gods of Battle?

He drove his men into the fray
Urg’d one last, ferocious spurt,
Resolute that following today
His men no more shall face hurt,
Let loose is one last bullet spray,
Foes bleeding in the dirt…
Prussian militarism extinguish’d
With one sweet cry, “The fighting is finish’d!”

Thro Brandenburg victorious
Men sang in Zhukov’s drag,
Pallid soldiers stood glorious
By the ruin’d Reichstag,
Upon whose roof bird-flutter’s Russia’s sickle-corner’d flag.

Berlin
May 2nd
1945


Flight of Eichmann

The air is cool and night is coming.
The calm Rhine courses its way.
The peak of the mountain dazzles
Heinrich Heine

As Messerschmitts motor thro’ morning sky
In their desperate efforts for safety,
One weary man with yet wearier sigh
Looked low upon dear burning Germany;
No sun, no birds,
Just smoke, just hate, just hell,
No more those mystic words, no more Der Fuhrer’s spell.

Down there… a soldier saw the plane
& wish’d that he flew within,
Instead, manhandl’d off the train
By avenging Konstantin,
Black memories flood-boiling brain,
That scar brought back the sin…
For what this slug did to his Dosia
He drew his knife & slew Gerhart Buscher.

Up there… Eichmann went on in flight,
Touch’d down by sultry port;
By dead of night, with nerves afright,
He boarded a small boat,
For distant Buenos Aires bound, diamonds about his throat.

Barcelona
May 4th
1945


Collapse of the Reich

What ear to our pitiful anger
Which grows in us like a tumour
In the black depth of our plaintive throats
Birago Diop

Only Goebells would join his god in doom,
The Nazi magick sever’d from it’s source,
The rest scurry like rodents thro’ the gloom,
Watch’d by a rider & his snow-white horse;
Zhukov astride,
Majesty a-saddle,
Pyerun personified, mastery in battle.

A citizen enters a train,
But the scar that mark’d his skin,
Saw him manhandl’d off the train
By avengant Konstantin,
Black memories flood-boiling brain,
The face brought back the sin…
For what this slug did to dear Dosia
He drew his knife & slew Gerhart Buscher.

Nervous Eichmann went on in flight
Touch’d down by sultry port,
In came the night, his nerves asprite,
He smiled, boarded the boat,
Bound for distant Buenos Aires, diamonds about his throat.

Barcelona
May
1945


War’s Tragedy

I am a waterfall in the desert.
A rain from a cloudless sky.
A well known but unborn child
Dimitris Varos

First the High Seas Fleet then the Luftwaffe
Have fail’d to stave the shame of Germany,
The mad adventure finally over
But for one pilot, lone & full fury;
Flying beyond
The islets of the Danes
To skim the glist’ning pond that is the North Sea Lanes.

How could my contree lose this war
When victory was promist?”
In front span the enemy’s shore,
Lindisfarne & the North East,
Anger’s malice swept thro his core
As man becomes the beast…
Seeking some random English street to strafe,
How sad for those who deem’d themselves so safe,

Not knowing it was enemy
Approaching them in flight,
How casually they stop to see
‘Til scatter’d in full fright
By this appalling pointlessness, man sicken’d by his spite.

North Shields
May 6th
1945


Unconditional Surrender

Let sanity have strength & men unite
Who in their invididual lives are glad
That what remains of peace may yet prove strong
HB Mallailieu

There is a scent of lilac in the scene,
The birds are twittering, how sweet the song,
Hosts of soft buds lighten the valley green,
Bloom, birds & bees float back where they belong;
Nature disturb’d,
By gruff sound of staff car,
A callous clime soon curb’d… come men, come end the War.

Monty noticed his big gun guest
Still starch-stiff with arrogance,
“Your nation must heed this request
To cease with thy remonstrance
‘Gainst Allied nations, east & west,
& with them phoenix France…”
On tabletop an armistice appears,
Small moment to cut short the Thousand Years.

Admiral Doenitz signs his name
Upon a poignant page,
Accepts the shame, the varlet blame,
Of this most violent age
& with a last, “Heil Hitler!” murder exeunts from the stage.

Friesland
May 8th
1945


VE Day

nurses with level eyes, & chaste
in long starched dresses, move
Amongst the maimed, giving love
Patricia Ledward

Round Fence & Barley, Altham & Burnley,
Bonfires ablaze, day spreading fine & fair,
Towards Pendle’s shepherd solitary,
Sylphs escort joyous mafficking on air;
Gleeful Sumners,
Free from their weary load,
Join the festive numbers flocking to Manny Road.

T’was the greatest of street parties
(Since the Golden Jubilee),
Flags of all the Allied contrees
Fluttering in victory,
Fun, feastings & festivities
As life’s resurgency
Spreads colours lighting up those party hats
Worn both by peasants & by diplomats.

They’d suffer’d War fer six rude years,
Life’s problems growing plump
Thro’ tides of tears, thro’ childish fears,
Dead sons & Tommy’s stump,
The Sumners battled on… young Maggie rubs her baby-bump!

Burnley
May 8th
1945

 

Canto 75: Victory in Asia

The unknown weapon is radiant lightning, a devastating messenger of death, which turn’d all to members of Vrishni & Andhaka clans to ashes. Their whiten’d bodies became unrecognizable. Those who escaped lost their hiar & nails – as if eaten by insects. In a very short time food became poisonous.

The Mahabharata


Okinawa

Take you the folk of the Earth in pay,
With bars of gold your ramparts lay,
Bedeck the ocean with bow on bow
Ernst Lissauer

The greatest armada in history,
Far from Hawaii’s indecorous day,
Tho’ besieged by swarms of Kamakaze
Deem’d nothing but the, ‘Fleet That Came To Stay;’
Each fit GI
Surged forth victorious,
All-times supported by his forty carriers.

More like chivalric pilgrimage,
Meters recrudescent miles,
Foxholes, fatigue & foliage,
Rallentandoid lizard isles,
From anguine path to rocky ridge
Defenders heap’d in piles,
More snipers fanatical tied up trees,
Sending advancing Yankees to their knees.

Within his divine death-place sat
An angel from the sky,
Some vampyre bat… the ship-deck spat,
But fail’d to swat that fly,
Breaking, exploding bestial to high-pitch howl’d “Banzai!”

Sea of Japan
May
1945


Death of a Reichsfuhrer

evil:
by me & to me –
squelches inside me
John Rodker

This scrawny, short, Schutzstaffel Mongoloid,
High priest of Aryan supremacy,
Shaves moustache smooth in order to avoid
The scales of denazied authority;
Tho’ unsuspect –
Panic’d false papers thrust…
The photo records check’d, his eye-patch guise was crush’d.

“Are you Himmler?” he deft defies
Gentle interrogation,
When stripp’d & search’d, the doctor tries
A small dental inspection,
Dull glimmers prise the narrow eyes,
Beacons of decision…
Crushing a small capsule of cyanide,
This secret death namore his teeth shall hide.

The Fowler died & with him went
The sad wyghts of Wansee,
Whose wails had sent the innocent
Unto that twisted tree,
Where they would hang from countless nooses’ cruellest misery.

Lueneburg
May 25th
1945


Death of Basho

Burning my house to keep
them out, you sowed wind. Hear it blow!
Soon you reap
John Beecher

The messenger sprinted across the sand,
Baring the loss of the Yamamoto,
Before the noble lord of his command…
As Basho’s senses stirr’d by Bushido;
he unsheath’d blade,
Finger’d the grip’s shark-skin,
No longer, now, afraid… he drew his charges in.

Grubby cheeks rubb’d powder-rouge red
Reflecting the bloody glow
Flaring upon each soldier’s head
When sever’d from it’s torso…
Surrounded by his loyal dead
It was his turn to go –
Smiling the grave grimace of Seppuku
Across his side his sword he slowly drew.

Dragonfly thron’d on lotus claw,
Sat by a bonsai tree,
Intestines pour, white waves of gore,
Honour’d Hari Kari!
Serving the soul with mystic realms of tryptych chivalrie.

Mount Shuri
June 21st
1945


Back to the Hustings

Soft peace she brings; wherever she arrives
She builds our quiet as she forms our lives ;
Lays the rough paths of peevish Nature even
Matthew Prior

About boroughs of a bankrupt Britain,
Her empire pawn’d to elongate the war,
Drives Churchill, seeking his re-election,
Pleading to be return’d thro’ Downing’s door;
But out of strife
Rises some new spirit,
Seeking a better life they’ll hear their leader’s bit;

I lay down here that solemn charge
Placed upon me in dark times,
When we held off Hitler’s barrage,
Then sought justice for his crimes,
As peaceful futures loom up large,
& sweeter shine all climes,
“Vote for me,” answers fill the ballot box –
A welfare state on Britain’s quayside docks.

Invoted are change-hungry men,
Praise the Labour Party,
As chimes Big Ben, from Number Ten
Travels Clerment Atlee,
Laird of his race, to take his place as one of the ‘Big Three.’

London
July 27th
1945


A New Bomb

Westward the course of empire takes its way ;
The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day
Bishop Berkeley

Carefree strolling thro’ the Sans Soucci,
Poetgarden of the playboy Kaisers,
Relaxing by the royal Jungfernsee,
Stalin deeper strategies devises
For Molotov’s
Superb post-conflict plans;
Schloss Cecilienhoff’s grand gathering of clans

Conjoins as occident chieftans,
Together, tongue-tied, appear,
Where truth-charged comments of Patton’s
Barge freely round Truman’s ear;
“Why should we stop, when those Russians
We also too could clear!”
Today, with Allies distinctly divided
How cautious was their converse conguided.

With Poland diff’rently shaded,
A time for frankness come,
Truman traded glances & said,
We have forged a new bomb,
Intended to smite low Japan,” fresh devils beat the drum.

Potsdam
August 1st
1945


Royal Awakening

I wished to die last night. I wished to die.
But then I feared, for I was alone,
The darkness seem’d to me an ocean high
Inger Hagerup

Calls for unconditional surrender
Emanate from that stately Potsdam room,
Tojo pleads, “Terms too harsh, Lord Emperor…
The nations honour vital as her doom.”
Majestic, “No!”
Then Hirohito sigh’d,
“The time has come to grow, too many sons have died.”

While Tojo slid away to brood
At the Yasukini shrine,
The Emperor explor’d his mood
With a glass of Saki wine,
His vision ev’ry vista view’d
From Saipan to the Rhine;
Events & forces spiral from control,
A broken fortress at an empires fall.

He sent out his meditations
Upon their fastest steeds,
“Fly, fly my sons, fly to Russians,
Fly to the Swiss, the Swedes,
Let peace rush once more round the world as water does the reeds!”

Tokyo
August 4th
1945


Nuclear Dawn

The bomb burts like a flower,
& grew upwards under the sun.
And men stood far off, & wondered.
Angela M Clifton

On flexing orthoptic Truman insists,
Despite Japan’s offers of perfect peace,
B29 whines thro’ dense morning mists,
A break in the clouds… the new bomb’s release;
Their mission done
Men turn & bank away,
Flash brighter than the sun washes th’Enola Gay.

Nippon’s fair skies were ripp’d apart
By an awesome sphere of fire,
Hotter than Sol’s star-boilant heart,
Birth of the new messiah,
No brush of Pre-Raphaelite art
Could paint this awful pyre,
As in horrific instant Balrog comes
Bestride ten raging trillion atoms.

Cometh the cloud of fungal shape,
No nat’ral law could halt
Its gruesome rape, a cityscape
Spectres of Hebrew salt,
Forms leprous, red-raw populace, or shadows in asphalt.

Hiroshima
August 6th
1945


Knockout Blow

O cry it across the chasm
Of ages, how we struck
In the atom’s smithy a sword
Stanley Snaith

The shockwaves of that terrible whirlwind
Tornadoes form, F5 morality,
But, come the dusts, Democracy hath pinn’d
His badges on the breasts of Liberty,
Close must the clash,
How can Japan fight on,
When in a single flash whole cityscapes are gone.

“This morning, sire, we were attack’d…”
“Which place?” “Hiroshima,
As of yet they’ve made no contact…”
Sadness fell’d the Emperor,
“How can this be, the city lack’d
For naught, I remember…”
Came later in the day the stunning truth,
When wept he for the old ones & the youth,

When holding head in trembling hands
He rued all he had done,
& understands the world demands
The setting of his sun,
“We must make peace, to Molotov release my decision.”

Tokyo
August 6th
1945


Extreme Force

Among some green or dried out leaves
there sings upon the window sill
a foreign bird
Astrid Cabral

“Things alter’d very much since Tsushima,”
Says Molotov to the ambassador,
“This morning we attack’d Manchuria,
& thus is our declaration of war!”
With this red wreath,
The Soviet Jackal
Sinks perdifious teeth in Japan’s carcass skull.

As soldier seizes higher ground
To win the battle below,
A pilot bristles over ground,
From the fuselage lets go
Another moment to astound,
A new Nagashino –
Now forms the mad noise of many waters,
Nuclear phrenzie swarms as she slaughters.

As Liberty’s long vision drew
Closer magnanimous,
With quick one-two victory flew
Yon that black wilderness,
Gaunt skeletons strewn thro’ the ash defines total success.

Nagasaki
August 9th
1945

 

Canto 76: Coalesence

A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won.
The skies no longer rain death – the seas bare only commerce –
men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight.

General Douglas MacArthur


Victory in Japan

See, Pahana
how we nest
in your ruins
Wendy Rose

Today the fever of the globe subsides,
Some Monadnock restored unto the world,
Across Missouri’s deck MacArthur strides,
For him the battle banners sadly furl’d;
His brood had brought
The safety of the Earth,
Full fiercely had they fought for lasting Freedom’s birth.

War brands a mark upon the slave
& hurls him to the slaughter,
Death pins a badge upon the brave,
Whose names are writ in water,
Fate carves respects into each grave,
Memorized forever…
Forever, ah! forever but to be
Forgotten like the Spanish Tragedie.

Most odoriferous conflict
Of ghost-dim histories,
A multi-victim count edict
To gross stupidities,
Gone trompeting blood knowledge of Man’s capabilities.

Tokyo Bay
August 14th
1945


Peace

Shall they return to beatings of great bells
In wild train-loads?
A few, a few, too few for drums & yells
Wilfred Owen

Full fragrant with the buttercups of June,
Deep Summer’s musk still sunset lingering,
When all of all Selene’s harmony in tune
Reflected in warm-fringed mellowing;
When woods in leaf
By nature gently nurs’d,
Suede moment of relief afore the golden burst.

In a whirl of wars & truces
The pageant of history
Has walk’d well with all the muses
& therin the poetry
Pays good homage to Confucious’
Peaceful testimony,
For surely this a moment of sublime
When Dawn’s lush calm is flusht across a time.

From Darwen to Acapulco,
From Budapest to Lourdes,
From Palermo to Tokyo,
From Ankhorage to Rhodes,
A whisper of sweet silence as the priesthood the scabbard swords.

Earth
August
1945


Nu, Pogodi!

And the fugitives crossed
land & rivers
& swept their trails clean
Simon Ortiz

The five year plans are set back fifty years
Tractors destroy’d, factories ruined heaps
The people have suffer’d too much for tears
& thousands clamp’d upon the camps for keeps;
Mother Russia
Thy red was bled fair white,
& yet, thou art victor, great glory to thy fight!

Fealty to the conqueror!
All soviet together;
Ruthenia, Sakhalia,
Manchuria, Korea,
Estonia & Latvia
With Bessarabia
Plus portions of the Poles & Finnish lands
All eat out of the Kremlin’s Falcon hands.

Upon the wake of raging war
The wolf catches the hare,
From Balkan ore to Baltic shore
The Sickle slices air,
The governments of the old fronts a cordon sanittaire.

Eastern Europe
1945


At Home with the Windsors

Just as of yore the friendly rain
Patters its old and frank refrain;
Just as of yore the world swings by
Sydney Elliott Napier

As morning blossom fluffles oer the grange
The Scottish Highlands caught the ocean breeze
Whipping in o’er the hoary Wicklow range,
Catching the seaswans in their perfect ease;
Blending with snows,
Wylde winds of Helvellyn
Bear pair of mating crows toward the royal kin.

BANG! BANG! shot squawking from the sky,
For two partridges mistook,
The day was late, the king’s throat dry,
Gusty autumn fairly shook
The ailing trees, with trailing sigh
The Queen put down her book
To tenderly stand by her husband’s side,
“Still beautiful…” he thought & blest his bride.

George, I’m glad those days are over,
The ghastliest I’ve seen,”
Stood together, angel daughter
Scampering cross the green,
“Glad Lizzie will inherit a free land when she is queen.”

Balmoral
October
1945


War is Over

a crowd at the gammon,
fair-bosomed women
& crowns being wagered all round
Seamus MacGriogair

The Alps felt the first frost-fall of the year,
A soft, white sheet to blanket all with snow,
Jean Francois look’d down from a higher tier
Upon the rooves of Briancon below;
With scarfless throat,
No spike, no pick, no rope,
Like some rough mountain goat he scamper’d down the slope.

By underwater mountain stream,
Crystal waters crisp & clear,
Jean descended as if adream,
Startl’d herds of roving deer
Sent scattering by friendly beam,
Then as the inn grew near,
He thank’d his god, his land, his libertie,
Cursing the name infernal of Nazi.

He steps into ‘Les Montemar,’
Life lazes at a pace,
Walks to the bar, “Stella Artois…”
“Huit francs…” straight waitor-face,
“Huit francs! Huit francs pour un Artois, monsieur c’est un disgrace!”

France
September
1945


P.O.W.

A dreadful solitude each mind insane,
Each its own place, its prison all alone,
And finds no sympathy to soften pain
J.A. Heraud

Danny watch’d his brutal abandonment,
With fellow Aussie yellows left to die,
In this hell has perish’d the innocent,
Starv’d, tortur’d & the malarial fly;
More-or-less ghouls
This huckl’d skeletal
Lives buckl’d under rules, abandoned & brittle.

A week had pass’d & still no sign
Of the world that went outside,
‘Til down the Burmese railway line,
Where the ghosts of death abide,
A healthy force, fresh-fac’d & fine
Victorious, allied,
Came on to free their comrades from they camps
Are they soldiers?” life flickers in the lamps.

Danny ferried to Malaya,
Where all his woes began
Insane soldier, aeons older,
Forever alter’d man,
A vague & vanquish’d victim of imperial Japan.

September
1945


Meeting the Parents

The world has nothing to bestow;
From our own selves our joys must flow,
And that dear hut, our home
Nathaniel Cotton

To the vale twixt Pendle & Hameldon,
Carlton Dillinger rail’d his Christmas leave,
Stept into an alien environ
Where terraces thro’ chimney forests weave;
Ah! there she stood,
Like some broad from the farms,
Countenance calm & good, their cherub in her arms.

She led him thro’ those slummish rows,
Humming with community,
Where cloth cap, cobbles & torn clothes
Hardest work’d for Victory,
Upon the front door-step stood Rose,
&, behind her, Charlie,
Glowing in his grand-paternal summer,
Yer may be a Yank but yer a Sumner!”

Despite six years of hardship pass’d,
Christmas found the Winners,
War’s awful blast finsh’d at last
&, to top their dinners,
“I’ve bin ter Flossy Bennets fer a pound o’ bananas!”

Burnley
Christmas Day
1945


Jubilations

Only the living can have fun.
Die – & what have we become
but lonely heaps of ash & bone
Ascelpiades

It seems a parody of the psyche
That man should revel in the loss of life,
When triumph oversets grief’s maladie,
A ginger straw clutch’d by a grieving wife;
As tickertape
Brings snowfall to the skies,
Full flows the malt & grape as gorged are apple pies.

Patton performs his Alpha role
At a banjie jamboree,
Which thro flag-happy streets dost roll
For the love of victory,
When his own contreemen did call
He led them all safely
Thro all the carnage & the crush of war:
Stepping inside from the popular roar

He levels with Eisenhower,
My friend, the time is now!
This is the hour, we have the power,
Let’s push on to Moscow
& drive those stinkin’ Commies all the way back to Macau!”

New York
New Year’s Day
1946


The Last Grunfeld

There is no hope: “in all this world
There is no other wisdom
Than ours: we have understood the world”
Randall Jarell

At first her body had refused the food,
But soon she made a full recovery,
But for the empty void that was her brood,
A family without a family:
Her thoughts ascrew,
Her soul too shock’d to grieve,
What Anna had lived thro’ no modern could believe.

The hospital left in the dark
That is the day of Winter,
Small portion of this new ‘Deutschmark’
Was all the Allies leant her,
She took a seat in leaf-shorn park,
Took a seat with nature,
The nature of a cold & hostile land,
Could anybody ever understand?

She stood there huddl’d in the damp,
O lowly echelon,
Crude bench her camp, waiting the lamp…
Since Titus & Chillon,
The vicarious atonement of the anointed one.

Germany
March
1946