Titles

AXIS & ALLIES

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The first truly global epic poem

Center’d upon the Second World War

 

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Canto I: L’Amfiparnasso


So arose the practice of celebration in exalted verse the battles & other notable deeds of men together with those of the gods.
Boccaccio


Invocation

There is a glade in an ancyent forest
Where glittering pools of molten azure
Assail ripe sense… insliding, moonbeam-bless’d,
Soul bathes in blissful dreamtimes gleaming pure;
Attended by
My nine naked maidens,
Vulvaean lullaby lilting thro’ love gardens.

She harps a song, she summons stars,
She waltzes round the waters,
She treats these sainted battlescars,
She paints a floating lotus,
She strums her summergold guitars,
Loxianic daughters!
How lovely & how livid floods thy light,
What verses & what wonders must I write?

They ring & weave thro’ tryptych tones,
Sing rich enchanted chime,
Soft music hones their mystic moans,
& so… my all must rhyme…
With hopes of flashing heroes up Parnassus slopes we’ll climb!


 

Dedication

Five hundred years ago, most gracious prince,
Oer thirty thousand ancestors were yours,
Victoria, of all them, must convince
Ye are most worthy of we troubadors;
Thy fruitful days
Adds to our garden joy,
When piles of pyre-steep’d praise heap’d on Di’s happy boy.

Remembering thine own fair birth
When I was only seven,
Your majesty has grown on Earth
Amang the Sons of Heaven,
New to the world ye’ve shewn true worth
Aye, & that’s a given –
Maturity hast bless’d thy diadem,
At heart thou art of us & less of them.

My prince, with praise, I offer thee
This book of rumbling words,
Mnemone to Melody,
Midst lines of waltzing thirds,
Life shimmers ever phosphorous as if t’were sufi birds.


 

To My Readers

I know these words rest heavy in the hands,
When reading them should creep a little while,
But think of me alone in distant lands,
With heavy load, abroad an extra mile;
Thro’ thorn, up steep,
In search of awesome views,
Where I would sit in deep communion with the Muse.

Gadswounds! My global chronicle
Will preserve the violent show
Of our planet’s lust for battle,
Men panting for Megiddo;
Friends! Be ready for to Google
All words ye do not know,
When mining into human history,
This is a kind of University!

Prepare a bath, pour out your wines,
Light up a candle’s flame,
Encase your minds, embrace these lines,
Enlightenment our aim,
War’s business is but terrible – not glory, nor a game.


 

Argument

I sing of Mars, whose blood-besplatter’d reign
Lived long among the secret brotherhoods,
& if these verses vast mine aim deem plain:
To elevate auld lives before the Floods;
When to the stars,
Or in our upmost caves,
This exile song of Mars an epic epoch saves.

As the vestige Villanovan
Found in Verruchian tombs,
As golden-thron’d Glasgerion
Immortalis’d ladies looms,
Ready, my lithe young mind…. Open!
When poetry resumes,
I’ll pay the World its histrionic dues,
Quite polyamorous to every Muse.

Non sono nazifaschisti,
Fair freedoms forged in blood,
The mystery of history
Spreads thro’ me like a wood,
In which I’ll twist unfettered feet as only Clio could.


 

Valedictions

I am no pickpurse of another’s wit,
Yet understand tradition is a tool,
When mostly I’m the Muses’ conduit
& sing to them, prostrately, as a fool,
Je suis rien,
Per je ne suis pas dieu,
Vous etes tout mon bien, le lustre de mon cieux!”

As when old Thales’ Iliad
By princely rhapsodes utter’d,
The ghosts behind these lines glow glad
Whenever they’ll be mutter’d,
As if some new Upanishad
Down the Deccan flutter’d,
Containing all the epos of an age,
Far from the sterile tombstone of the page.

As when elders Albanian
Sang legends kith & kin,
Or Suqatran, hoary herdsman
Harps word-hordes held within…
Verse-vestibules of history maintain Cruachan’s Djinn!


 

Arcadia

Always preparing, always reparing,
The new ensemble of a Danaan song;
No single impulse, but many sharing,
A swirl of verse, a whirl of words among
Eternal heights
Of endless mountenance:
Criss-crossing cloudless nights wild woodland swans advance!

With Saint John & the Patmos vine,
The Bard of the Scyldingas,
Dante’s Comedia Divine,
Tasso’s inspired Crusaders,
With Spenser’s store of faerie wine
& Milton’s masterclass,
I made my bed – from patchwork eiderdown,
I pluck’d my quills & ink’d them up in town!

From erudition constancy
To genius applies;
Consistency, coherency,
Watch phaerie wonders rise
From paranormal mutterings… them given golden guise.


 

Astrophel

I stretch to grasp the gross Orphean lyre,
These fingers on the fringe with fuga fraught,
When en-plein-air whisp’ring perfumes transpire,
Hyblean murmors of prophetic thought;
Beside Mankind
I find my social niche,
Reflective & refined; the poesy of pastiche.

Along the road I drank my wine,
While others gave it gladly,
Good souls were they, old friends of mine,
Such thanks to all who’ve had me,
Some tickl’d by this soul-sunshine,
Others flummox’d madly,
For poets & their strangely ancyent ways
Are meant to men affix… affront… amaze.

As from the Wealth of Nations rise
A pleasure-loving soul,
Invested ties friendship supplies
Up puff me proud & tall,
To conjure something rich & queer to steer us, each & all.


 

An American Epic

Ye children of America, awake!
What world terrific lies beyond thy shores,
That ne’er your Founding Fathers could forsake,
Nor Modern Masters; as the Old World wars,
From Dante’s lines
Unto Fall River’s weaves,
Our syllabus entwines across sibyllic leaves.

As every atom you & I,
My language thee’ll be sharing,
Sometimes Mark Doty’s lullaby,
Sometimes John Weiner’s daring,
Behold our clan-like landscape’s tie,
Consubstantial pairing,
Whom mighty oak-bold tyrants fought & fell’d
A Lion & an Eagle’s Gryphon-meld.

Yes… I guess we can forgive her,
Thy blessed Libertie,
She’ll endeavor to deliver
This world from Tyrannie,
As we, yon waves inveterate, conflate thy destiny.


 

Testamundi Poeticus

I am a man, many have gone before
& will come yet; to thee I trust this song,
Pray let her fly to every foreign shore,
Shewing the World how once the World went wrong;
Such manic times
Have ended, only just,
Whose freshness fills these rhymes far from the bookish dust.

I would the World should hear this song
& sing her down the ages,
So when the epic, proud & long,
Renaissance ever stages,
Let poets ply their trade among
Polytechnic pages,
Finding a thing or two that they could use
In future conversations with the Muse.

Namore shall Homers chaunt War’s praise
Or Owens curse it’s game;
Some psychic craze, unbridl’d days,
Crude torture, quelling shame,
This is my long-wrought testament to what Mankind became.


Canto 2: Immortals I


I suddenly saw that directly to the North, over Onkoul’s Tunguska road, the sky split in two & fire appeared high and wide over the forest. After that such noise came, as if rocks were falling or cannons were firing, the earth shook, & when the sky opened up, hot wind raced between the houses, like from cannons, which left traces in the ground like pathways
Semenov


 

Balrog

Across the wormy gyres of ceaseless time,
By Dogstar’s sister, wee Sirius B,
A soldier’s table spreads with ancyent rhyme,
Those sacred fables of the Sah-Pu-Qi;
Epic, yet terse,
Legends of ancyent past,
Of how a Universe was born for us at last!

He read how Genesis & crew
Flew far in Star-Vimana,
How Mugulu & Mukulu,
Seriel & Semyaza,
Would populate a world so blue,
Naming it Zahara;
Dream trance disturb’d by Gen’ral Balthazeer,
“Captain, a chance to further your career.

The Usgoth dance a dastard jig,
Hot words of harsh war made!”
Donning a wig, mounting Tepig,
Rode Balrog to parade;
O gallant host, drumrolls & roars, rais’d rows of plasma-blade!

Dadgabbi


 

Ambush

Follow faint traces of light & lazar
Along great lanes of space innum’rable,
To twinsewn systems of a distant star,
In mortal combat lock’d incurable;
As Usgoth hordes
Embattle Dadghabbi,
Wide wave electric swords in awesome chivalry.

Upon the fringes of the fray
Our graceful leuitenant rides,
His strong & stately steed of grey
By the jet-black vortex strides,
Tepig splits skies with startling neigh,
Assaulted on all sides,
Balrog hauls reigns & gallops into space –
Trailing green vapours three Gaargants gave chase.

Upon a tapestry of stars
Hooves of quartz-crystal pound,
The Usgoth Gaars, all fangs & scars,
Gain steadily in ground,
Tripping the light fantastic at the searing speed of sound.

Space


 

The Chase Ends

Just a wee spot on the dimple of time,
A billion galaxies around us,
& them a wee spot, mere provincial clime,
The Universe spreads always prepond’rous;
Flesh life, star light
Swarm over airy rocks,
Some mastering space-flight, some shepherds & their flocks.

Amid amazing Milky Way
Balrog faced his pursuers,
As tho’ a Roman in the day
Of Tullus Hostillius –
When triplet sets made fierce affray
For their populaces –
When like some last unwounded Roman son,
Our Knight faced three ‘Quirini,’ one-by-one.

Combat is join’d, a flash of blades,
Two toss’d into the void,
Last Usgoth fades, in Balrog wades,
Some speeding asteroid,
To slay his foe, Tepig alas by Usgoth spear annoy’d.

Space


 

The Approach

On the flaming hoof rode the vorpal steed,
Out of the sapphire regions between stars,
Past Sol’s slumb’rous giants scything at speed,
Yon the rocky ring & roseate Mars;
Full into view
Appear’d a peopl’d world,
A pearl of green & blue where whisp-white cloud-swirls curl’d.

Wings shredded so they could not steer,
Talon-slash trailing crimson,
All thro’ the scorching stratosphere
Plunges Vampyre Stallion,
No wince, no flinch, nor cry of fear,
Then, at the collision,
Marsh forests fly & land in piny piles,
The shatter’d tundra of a hundred miles.

All thro’ primeval Tunguska
Would devastation flood,
At the crater’s smoking centre
No beast of Eden stood;
Hail Alien! Bulbous, Bewing’d, Fangs thirsting Manling blood.

Siberia


 

The Sorceress

Long-Horn leads his sick steed thro’ Tulgey wood,
On ev’ry side bewitching whispering,
A phantom cry to curdle human blood,
A fence of ghoulish eyes ever-learing;
Tooth gate gnarl-grown,
Fang’d entrance to her lair,
O gaunt, dishevell’d crone! O jaundic’d, hellsent stare!

He steps thro’ arms aframe a door,
Enters gloom as black as tar,
“I have not seen thy like before!”
“I am from another star…”
“Welcome… sup flesh… this putrid sore…”
Cackles Baba Yaga,
Passing her guest a leg of leprosie –
He drank & thank’d for help, her only fee

A draught of blood, he slit his wrist,
Her beastly thirst to slake,
Mad mystic tryst! At witch-door hiss’d
Gigantic scarlet snake,
“This is sharp maw’d Zmei Gorynich, ye to the Beast shall take…”

Asia


The Bargain

In the Necropolis’ most deepest tomb,
Far from the prying eyes of Seraphim,
Balrog swept down the shit-clad catacomb
Unto the Anti-Heaven’s inner rim;
Wide halls of bone,
Waulcaters amplified,
Unto the Serpent Throne beat leather-sails a-glide.

O suave, majestic demagogue
I humbly stand before thee,
The cosmos knows me as Balrog,
Lieutenant of Dadghabbi,
In these claws see I clutch a cog,
Heights of Technology –
With it you could defeat thine ancyent foes…”
Chrome circlet with deep sparkling azure glows.

What is the price? ” “A war!” “Indeed,
I can arrange the course –
But why?” “My steed may only feed
Upon a certain sauce…”
Low whinnies of encouragement wept from his wounded horse.

Pandemonium


 

Rousing the Aesir

Loki canter’d the clammy trachts of Hell,
Strange presences witnessing wyrd meeting,
At first it seem’d their talk was flowing well,
But demons grant comforts only fleeting;
Be-elzebub
Sets his sharp scythe aspin…
Leaving a grubby stub, donning the bloody skin.

‘Loki’ rose to halls of glory,
Acknowledging each table
Serv’d by a busty Valkyrie
With meat & mead & fable,
Then entering a fine city
Carv’d from marv’lous marble,
His mission hidden by a face of stone,
Kneeling before, beneath auld Odin’s throne.

“Hullo!” chimes Frigg, “Why cometh here!”
“Satanus calls for War!”
A goblet cheer, all the Aesir
Applauded from the floor,
A vogue & gory battle cry to rouse the rage ofThor.

Valhalla


 

The Indifference of Jove

Saint Peter hoodah’d cross the skiey plains
Upon a silver, tuskless Elephant,
His seraph-captain rhythmic with the reigns;
Resplendent with immortal Amorant
All sides lustred
Roses celestial,
Chasm-clinging cluster’d oer clear terrestrial.

He rode thro’ Paradise Mountains
To a voice more like a dream,
Echoing amidst the fountains
Where the holy rivers stream,
“Since I offer’d Man redemptions,
Souls would I once redeem,
He errs more than the sinful sons of Eve,
If men rejoice in killing why then grieve?”

“There are dark troubles brewing sire,
Satanus plots a war,
With daemons dire & dragons fire,
The Aesir to the fore,”
“Silence,” urged Jove, “we let them be, ‘tis just another war.”

Divinnia


 

Conversazione

The goddess KARMA flew to Fairyland,
Convers’d with Mab, queen of the Pixie Glen;
As round them lovely daffadillies fann’d,
Far from the prying eyes of Gods & Men,
Sipping mull’d brews,
Flavour’d with wildflowers,
Sharing their recent news, minutes turn to hours.

As woodnymph with translucent wings
Burnish’d words with berry cakes,
Sighs Mab, “these new Gods & their Kings
Seldom learn from late mistakes,
Discontented with what Fate brings,
Each lusts more while he takes –
In that I trust not Satanus, nor Mars,
Lords of land’s cancers & the sea’s catarrhs.

In these futurities foreseen
Your days will grow busy?”
Not quite, my queen, I choose one scene
So very carefully –
Two families shall represent all of Humanity.”

Shangri-La


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Canto 3: The Great War


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


 

Hakenkruz

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 haemorrage 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


 

Death of Innocence

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


 

Assassin!

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

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


 

All Quiet on the Western Front

Twas just another day in the trenches,
The ‘stand to’ bugler blew before the dawn,
A man from heatless zee-catching wrenches;
Slugs, frogs, bats, rats & beetles flee his 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


 

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


 

Armistice

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.

Corporal Hitler struggld thro’ pain,
Rushing by shell-shock’d patients
Into an evening’s winter’s rain,
Cursing enemy 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


 

Homecoming

At the Douamont fort, by sunset shades,
A vet’ran lays a wreath to heal Verdun,
Melancholic souls of fallen comrades
Escort him on the tracks 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


 

Baby Boom

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


Canto 4: Stormclouds


In the track of great armies there must follow lean years
Lao-Tse


 

Mein Kampf

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


 

Squadron-Leader Bligh

With skilful ease he piloted the plane,
Thro’ patchwork carpet snakes the Bognor train,
What views to command from the soaring sky
‘Tween tenements of barley rusks & 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


 

Der Fuhrer

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


 

Unter Den Linten

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


 

Anti-Semitism

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


 

An Evening with the SS

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


 

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

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

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 5: Rubicon


There is now once more a Germany with which England must reckon as an important member of the European family of nations… let us march together, not against each other, into this new future for the benefit of our two great countries, for the benefit of Europe, for the benefit of the world
Freiherr von Reheinbaben


 

The Question of Versaille

Churchill lurch’d from his back-bench wilderness,
Round his thick neck dangl’d the Dardanelles,
Projecting deep resonance to impress
On Parliament, dire are Fascist perils!
“I prophesise
That Berlin maniac
Has fool’d us to the wise, this 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 own country,
Raise her aulden 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,
From the Berghof a telegraph
Plucks from his stately gown,
“Mister Hitler is all for peace!” cheers drown the single frown.

London
March
1938


 

Nazi Party Rally

The moment Max Stemmler stept from the train
Him thrust into an echoistic sea,
Religious fervour proscribing his brain,
Heart leaping up to all the pageantry;
Bold church bells cheer,
“O lord, tis glorious!
Der Fuhrer, he is here! He has come among us!”

Neath nympholepsic fawn fanfare
& eagle-mantl’d banner,
Each dreamy, acolytic stare
Of uniform’d stormtrooper,
Paces fulgurant, flament, flair,
Figure-heads together;
Pass the Kongressbau: pulsing; hypnotic;
For the 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, his heart’s reflex.

Nuremburg
June
1938


 

Conquest of Czechoslovakia

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 bluffing for the pot,
Hascha dog-hounded round the den,
His temp’rament tired & hot,
He faints, but is reviv’d again
By Morrel’s morphine shot…
Thus, half adream, in the first flush of day,
This broken spine his country signs away.

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

Prague
March
1939


 

Providences

As distant peals of thunder drew closer,
About the Kehlsteinhaus tough Zephyrs swirl’d,
No wonder, here, delusions of grandeur,
An eagle’s nest perch’d high atop the world;
Whose lord commands
They’ll drive below the snow,
Wringing his clammy hands, singing, “Bring on the foe!”

“I reckon world needs sortin out!”
Says good ol’ Charlie Sumner,
Sipping a thick, black pint of stout,
Sat in ‘tat room o’ Mitre,
“Gerrys fer feyting, ‘ave no doubt,
It sez so in paper…”
We must finish off Nazis fer them Jews.”
“Aye!” sniff’d the barman, “& we’d best not lose!”

Pierre embraced his sweetheart’s glow,
Kissing her salty cheek,
“Alas, I go to Maginot,
Shed no tears Veronique,
Ah! Partir c’est mourir un peu…” she wept but would not speak.

Paris
August 24th
1939


 

& Wars Begin

Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth
WH Auden

Dawn’s grey warning creeps cross the Baltic Sea,
A silhouette slow forming on the line,
Rough broadsides disturb the serenity,
Belching from Krupps of the Schleswig-Holstein;
Each solemn thud,
Peppers the Polish shore,
Earth shatters, scatters mud – the first shots of the war!

The Reichstag sit, silent, subdued,
Observing their leader jeer,
“The Polish race, backward & crude,
Violates our dear frontier!
Bombs shall meet bombs in bitter feud,
Your first captain stands here –
In ‘fourteen I offer’d my dying breath,
I don my coat ‘til victory or death!

If England dares to test our might
In battle once again,
Then let us fight, our Eagle’s flight
Surpasses her fat hen,
We all the way shall war, be it a single year or ten!”

Berlin
Sept 1st
1939


 

Diplomatic Formalities

A telegram left the lap of London,
Bound for a distant British embassy,
Whose ambassador, thou suave Henderson,
Delivers to the Reich-chancellery;
At daggers drawn
With sly Von Ribbentrop,
Voice rugged as the stone found on the Spion Kop,

“I have the honour to relate
A note from his Majesty’s
Court… if Germany acts too late
In giving assurances
To withdraw from Poland, War’s state
Exists twixt our contrees…
You have until eleven to decide!”
Von Ribbentrop slithers to Hitler’s side,

There transfers the ultimatum
(His hands had dug the hole),
Hitler struck dumb, “Then war hast come,
England has serv’d the ball!”
Goering whispers, “If we lose this War, Lord God help us all!”

Berlin
September 3rd
1939


 

A New War

I have seen much to hate here – much to forgive,
But in a world where England is finished & dead,
I do not whish to live
Alice Duer Miller

The Sumner clan gathers round a wireless,
Rose fiddles nervous with ‘er wedding ring,
“Kids shhhhh!” sez Charlie, “This is serious!”
The crackling voice of their stammering king
Grave parley spoke,
An old sensation grew,
The bane of common folk, their worst fears turning true.

Freda strokes Gem, her jet black cat,
Gazed up at Hargher Chimney,
Saw ‘er grandson in an ‘ard hat
Motoring across the sea,
“Y’know ah Pat’ll be in that…”
“Don’t bi daft!” sez Charlie,
“It’ll all bi over bi Christmas grub!”
He took ‘is eldest down ter Rosegrove Club;

As cue-ball crack sank winning black,
Well son, what will it be?”
“I think…” voice slack, “Speak up our Jack.”
“…Mebbe Merchant Navy.”
“Good choice lad, nah sup up, gotta get gas mask
fer baby.”

Burnley
September 3rd
1939


 

The Agony of Poland

Most monstrously mechanized juggernaut,
Pouring in endless torrents from the West,
Seizes maladroit forces by the throat –
The Blitzkreig theorum passes first test;
All Warsaw prays,
Surrounded by the foe,
Still proud her anthem plays on ev’ry radio.

Hitler steers his half-track rumble
Thro’ the war-torn countryside,
Brandishing a single pistol,
& whip of harden’d oxhide,
His finest aide-de-camp, Rommel,
Makes studies by his side –
But coming on that first hospital train,
Refused to see his soldiers suff’ring pain.

They drove on thro’ the ghostly fog
Raking that rathole town,
A pining dog, a synagogue
Charr’d black from burning down,
Where perch’d a crow, it’s beady, yellow eyes now fleck’d with brown.

Sosnowiec
September 8th
1939


 

Evacuees

Sue caught the child-pack’d coach out of Poplar,
Such sadnesses sends tear-trachts swelling up,
Now the high-pitch’ d crowds at Victoria
Heaving like when the Arsenal won the cup;
She joined the rest,
Sobbing sweet maternals,
Prised from the suckling breast, both her little angels.

Onto a squealing train they hop,
Press noses to the windows,
Bursting young lungs at every stop,
Giggles as the whistle blows,
Down gulping sandwiches & pop,
Come Buxton’s fun repose
They saw a fresian real the first fun time,
Moo-moo?” Mavis cuts short her nurs’ry rhyme.

As tall tower lights up faces,
As sea-gulls sqawk thro’ air,
Wee suitcases claimed by strangers,
We’ll take the young lass there,”
Yelps Kenny; “No, mi mummy meant us two come as a pair!”

Blackpool
September 5th
1939


 

Canto 6: Dunkirk


Some to the wars, to try their fortunes there
Shakespeare


B.E.F.

And so, Good-bye, grim ‘Thirties. These your closing days
Have shown a new light, motionless & far
And clear as ice, to our sore riddled eyes:
David Gascoyne

What happy breed of men cheer’d off to war;
Geordie, Scouser, Taffy, Scot & Cockney –
Shepherded yon the Cornubian shore
By Captains of His Highnesses Navy;
Unfit to fight
First-class modern conflict,
Like Agricola’s might stormdashing naked Pict.

They sail’d around Amorica,
Dodging periscopic glare,
We’ll hang out our washing on the
Siegfried line!” flies thro’ the air,
Human paraphernalia
Landing at Saint Nazaire –
Where vital lines of communication
Criss-cross precious strings afloss a nation.

Tommy Sumner fingers the dust
Coating the farmhouse grey,
Bland ketchup must, bayonet rust,
Hand grenades & Nestle
Spoke volumes while invoking occupants of yesterday.

France
September 13th
1939


 

Lancashire’s Finest

And we stretched out, unbuttoning our braces,
Smoking a Woodbine, darning dirty socks,
Reading the Sunday papers – I saw a fox
Alun Lewis

To Belgium’s border order’d the East Lancs,
The one word whisper’d in the mess was, “when?”
Amidst the chassis of Matilda tanks,
Captain Andrews reviews his tawny men;
Such hardy bunch
From Pendle’s rugged vale,
When coming to the crunch he knew his lads wunt fail.

Picking their spades up after tea,
Some small subsidence to mend,
Tom Sumner swivels to Billy,
His baby-faced schoolboy friend,
“All this diggin’ is plain silly,
These lines we shan’t defend,
As soon as Gerry turns himself hostile
We’ll leave these bloody trenches for the Dyle!”

They dug awhile & watch’d the sun
Conclude ephemeral,
The digging done, jigging his gun,
Tommy foresaw battle,
“There’s summat funny goin’ on… t’night… I sense trouble.”

St Amand-les-Eux
May 9th
1940


 

Teutonica

The moon’s rays shiver in the branches.
Forest dark. Silence. Dug-outs.
How wonderful May nights are!
Georgii Suvorov

The racist faces the decadent West,
Spermatic as the coming of the Spring,
When leafy woods are at their loveliest,
& bowers vibrate with the blossoming,
When golden streams
Sol sends set on the scene,
When gorgeous glinting beams rebound off each machine.

Hitler boards the Amerika,
Under stars he trundles west,
Stirring strains of his dear Wagner
Lull him to a good hours rest,
Whirrs time by… train reaches bunker,
His bomb-proof Felsennest…
Praying before purpuric bloodshed starts,
“O God of Battles steel my soldier’s hearts!”

Facing the tranquil occident,
Rommel reclines with wines,
Cool, calm, content; his regiment
Should thunder thro’ the lines,
Flicking thro’ Sun Tzu, Von Clauswic & Charles DeGaulle’s opines.

Germany
May 10th
1940


 

Invasion

Under the white flag as he advanced
They say he stood bravely, never winced
As the first bullet pierced his lungs
Ruthven Todd

Aft shouts of war the shafts begin to fly,
No longer men must idle day-long days,
The sun was barely half-an-hour high
& all the Lowland Borders were ablaze;
Wilhemina
Rushes across the sea,
The crooked Swastika denuding majesty.

Rules rewrit for modern warfare;
First possess total surprise,
Then wholly dominate the air;
Thro’ th’Ardennes a phalanx flies,
Cheval-de-frise embatter’d bare
Beneath the Stuka skies,
‘Rev–Rev–Rev,’ three lines of polish’d Panzer,
Wait as if with Nelson off Trafalgar.

King Leopold laments the end
Of proud neutrality,
Forced to defend, his German ‘friend’
Is ravaging freely –
Men learn from history they’ve nothing learn’d from history.

Brussels
May 10th
1940


 

Britain Stirs

Now over the map that took ten million years
Of rain and sun to crust like boiler-slag,
The lines of fighting men progress like caterpillars
Louis Macneice

German Arms form an arm-like corridor,
Fist punching up thro’ Flanders to the coast,
Not wheel’d to Paris, as lost Bismarck’s War,
Tho’ given up is Galleini’s ghost;
Spirit thought fled
Seizes the Cinque ports,
The ghoul-songs of the dead blew thro’ abandon’d forts.

Adm’ral Ramsey climb’d Henry’s keep,
With a Nelsonian stance,
Gazes across the hoary deep
To the distant dark of France,
Where brave embattl’d Britons heap
Slim chips upon one chance…
Slipping back to Blighty via Dunkerque…
It’s crazy, but I’ve got to make it work!”

For once the British do not reel
Before the German gale,
From Grand Fort Phillipe, down to Lille,
Let fresh defence prevail,
From now each deep, bloodletted inch be fought for tooth & nail.

France
May 27th
1940


 

Dunkerque

Panic grips the fabl’d British army,
Her soldiers splinter’d into shatter’d shards,
Her wounded bench’d to face the enemy,
Her bodies rotting, her ordnance scrap-yards;
But for one lot,
Led by Ervine Andrews,
Whose pure Parthian shot let loose tho’ they must lose.

In soft barnthatch did Tommy ‘ide,
Wi’ captain & five more men,
Beneath them fifteen Germans died
(& they’d do ‘em all again),
Two poor survivors fled outside
Raw-scalp’d by Billy’s bren;
“Let’s scarper boys!” young lads fleshly blooded
Wade thro’ Flanders wide fields freshly flooded.

By dune collars up piles the kit,
“Lads, looks just like Lytham!”
A Messerschmit swoops down, to spit
Death’s teeth, O hangman’s drum,
Then inland hangs… they brush off sand, “Yer don’t get them on prom!”

Malo-les-Bains
May 30th
1940


 

Air Support

At Dunkirk I
Rolled in the shallows, and the living trod
Aross me for a bridge
Sidney Keyes

As chaplain preach’d to them on bended knee,
His prayers tumbl’d out from parching lips;
Men-laden craft crept slowly out to sea,
In hopeful silence bobb’d those lidded ships;
Firm officers
Check’d chaos with their guns,
“Form a queue you blighters, I’ll shoot each swine that runs!”

Shark’s Head in swinking triumph rolls,
Its jubilant pilot gloats
At two rickety, wooden moles,
Those pathetic little boats,
Those cold, exhausted, starving souls,
Grasping for filth that floats;
“How long until Der Fuhrer will prevail?”
He spies a goofy bird upon his tail…

…The labours late-night of boffins
This new ‘Spitfire’ deploys,
Messerschmitt spins… wings dorsal fins…
Pack’d beaches burst in noise;
“‘’Bout bleedin’ time!” screams Tommy, “three cheers for the Brylcreem Boys!”

Malo-les-bains
May 31st
1940


 

The French at the Evacuation

Only Lille deserves the honour of France,
Endures a losing battle to the end,
La Garde in front of La Belle Alliance
Would have been glad to frame these soldats ‘friend’;
Full fierce they fought
Like rigid rocks of Rome,
& ev’ry second bought some son sends safely home.

After many an adventure
Two poilus find safety’s grace,
Howling bagpipes call to muster
Bearded dregs of English race,
Out of copious wine cellar,
Fell some drunken disgrace;
Together they all stagger thro’ the night,
The last few boats for Dover to alight.

Boarding the pack’d Saint Helier
Henri slips, then falls &
Screams out, “Pierre!” soon oil-slick hair
& lone, ring-finger’d hand
Are gone, leaving no trace but shallow footsteps in the sand.

Dunkerque
June 2nd
1940


 

Echoes of Defeat

One dissarrange’d sending of French soldiers,
Stretches to breaking point both boat & crew,
Alas, as rear guard reaches the beaches,
Crass shrieks of British perfidy ensue;
They’d fought to save
Those footsteps in the sand,
Them gone across the wave, gone to the promis’d land.

“…the odious apparatus
Of the Nazi privateers
We shall fight on fields & beaches,
Offer I: blood, sweat & tears,
If the empire of the English
Should last a thousand years,
Then let men say this was her finest hour!”
Churchill’s balsam plants Pendragon power.

The floating corpse of poor LeGrand
Wash’d up close by Calais,
Above, huge band of gen’rals stand,
Bedeck’d in sylvan grey,
Viewing those cliffs… pecking the waves, an eagle surfing spray.

France
June 4th
1940


Canto 7: Evolutions


To delight in conquest is to delight in slaughter
Lao-Tse


Enter Italia

Altho’ his trains to time not yet have run,
Il Duce orders Italy’s attack
Tossing ancyent doors of Janus open,
Sticking a dagger in the Gallic back;
As Axis host
Swells two birds in one hand,
Spears pierce African coast like cacti roughens sand.

With Hitler nigh victorious,
Rises martial parasite,
Mussolini, ‘vainglorious,’
Young Alpini sends to fight,
Round snow-caps & ice crevices,
Far from Agrippa’s might,
Millennia has diluted the gene
That once won Europe for its own demesne!

Jean-Francois joined a local troop
Of common folk in arms,
Empiric group of youth & stoop,
Of farmers & gendarmes,
Shall guard the pass to Italy, some pancreas of Brahms.

Briancon
June 11th
1940


 

France’s Ignominy

How they fought on the field of Alesia!
How they conquer’d all with Napoleon!
How they endured the seige of the Kaiser!
How they bled at the bloodbath of Verdun!
War shown no care,
Les personnes du Paris
Ominouscent declare theirs an open city.

As ageing Petain chair’d the meet,
His cabinet divided,
Monsieurs we must accede defeat,
To battle on misguided!”
“Non! To Afric we must retreat,
Fight like corner’d tigers!”
“Oui! If we go we shall retain our pride,”
“Mais! Prison camps must cloak the countryside!”

“What of our comrades, les Angliches?”
“They offer union;
To fight, they wish, to the finish…”
“Tis naught but corpse fusion,”
Says Petain, “Soon she’ll have her neck wringing like a chicken.”

Bordeaux
June 17th
1940


 

Seasider

Sue Johnstone drifts to London Bridge Station,
Jumps on a train escaping to the sea,
Leaves London’s diamond civilisation,
Inspiraling hornet activity;
Infinite air
Of this midsummer’s day,
Wind ruffles thro’ her hair, so good to get away.

East Croydon first, then Three Bridges,
Into countryside serene,
Rusted bangers building hedges,
Signposts nowhere to be seen,
At Brighton hops she on a bus,
Winding to Rottingdean,
There stretches limbs on pebbledashy sand,
“I’m sorry, lav, civilians are bann’d!

We’ll mine the beach this week, they said,”
Sue stood & brush’d her skirt,
Her pretty head was full of dread
That turn’d to full alert,
& then full of her little ones, then thick went wick with hurt.

Sussex
June 21st
1940


 

Conqueror!

Clear as crystal in his reminiscence,
This world-historical adventurer
Tours poppy fields; once, here, youthful vibrance
Expended as a lowly despatch runner;
“How good & true
Our sacrifice now seems!”
He sighs, while driven to the city of his dreams.

Embedded in his consciousness
Were the palaces & rues,
The operatic spaciousness
Ev’ry artist soul imbues
With electric vivaciousness,
As if prolific muse;
Swift papparazi following his lead
Yon Arc & Tower to the Invalides,
.
He gazed thro’ the sarcophagus
Into his hero’s core;
Soft silences, stood glorious
On Alexander’s shore…
“This city truly wondrous but we’ll make our Berlin more!”

Paris
June 23rd
1940


 

Vital Days

With swastikas hanging from Brandenburg,
Hitler skulks back to his Reichschancell’ry,
Since Belgium, Holland, France & Luxemburg,
Just one more mob, determin’d utterly;
A giant map
Frames the situation,
One dew-bejewell’d gap gaurding that damn’d nation.

“A fleet of mine layers shall build
A bristling ballustradus,
The legions then may land unkill’d
From Ramsgate to Lyme Regis,
Soon British fields for Berlin till’d,
But first, remember this,
That only one pre-requisite is there,
We must control the all-important air.”

Commending wars der Fuhrer weaves,
Twelve friends crown’d Field-Marshal,
Each rod receives like laurel leaves –
God-lust swells Goering’s skull,
His baton must be kingsize… with ivory enamel.

Berlin
July 19th
1940


 

Dunkerque Spirit

Nothing to come seems unrealistic,
Morale stabs an amorphous entity,
Horsham deem’d ‘smug,’ Oxford ‘optimistic,’
Godalming ‘defeatist,’ Ipswich ‘happy;
The battle-front
Drifts into British streets,
Prepar’d to bear the brunt of all that Berlin metes.

This is no day to save the stags,
Conscientious objector
Branded, “a rat-thing wrapp’d in rags,”
Then worse, “a bloody traitor,”
Sniff housewives sat beneath the flags,
Waiting for Herr Hitler,
Sipping weak tea, suggesting, “Bloody Huns
Are parachuting in disguis’d as nuns!”

A motivating spirit charm
Envelops Britain’s mood,
From storm comes calm, when safe from harm
World peace must be renew’d,
‘Til then they’d have to buckle down like neighbours in a feud.

Great Britain
July
1940


 

The Factory

Charlie took Patrick up Healeywood pen,
To do their bit & dig for victory,
Water’d the veg & fed each clucking hen,
“Looks like we’re ‘avin’ scambled eggs fer tea!”
The town below
Grim-chok’d in chimney haze,
“It’s busy lad, y’know, just like in th’olden days.”

Rose skivvies in the weaving sheds
On shirts fit for a soldier,
On blankets for the pilot’s beds,
On soft hats for the sailor,
On berets for the captain’s heads,
Our factory tailor
Hard-toiling, as the lasses goes to work,
To turn round those big losses down Dunkerque.

The ‘home-go’ blows, she rush’d outside,
In charcoal black-out night,
The street-lamps died, her only guide
A dicky-shine-a-light,
Lit haggard flags until her ragged door warm’d into sight.

Burnley
July 28th
1940


 

Censorship

“Brother, come out & play, before you leave
For battle!” prattling Xaver collars Khan;
Of course he went, “What glory we’ll achieve,”
Sports Khan as whizz’d they down the autobahn,
To reach the port
Beside the Western Pond,
Where sailors records brought from Britain & beyond.

With jackets flash & poise perfect
Felt they very fine indeed,
What music moved thro’ these select
Young socialites… a stampede
Of jackboots… “Our youth must reject
This filth – heroic deeds
At the front this nigger-jew jazz transcends –
When leave you Moringen go tell your friends.”

Khan Stemmler kept his cool, his calm,
Claiming them just passing,
Well did he charm, when safe from harm,
Happiness amassing,
They laugh’d & ran thro’ streetlights, their friendship unsurpassing.

Hamburg
July 31st
1940


 

Home Guard

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
Henry Reed

The Battle for France is truly over,
The Battle of Britain has now begun,
Royal Air Force versus the Luftwaffe,
Her nine hundred outnumber’d three to one;
Sky-lines are drawn,
Cautious, star-cross’d fencers,
A first few flights are flown, probing for weaknesses.

Sarge hands out two rounds for practice,
That’s all the top brass could spare;
Lads, aim yer rifles straight at this
Scrawny scarecrow with straw hair…”
As man-to-man these misfits miss,
“Ya bleedin shower, there
Won’t be a second chance wi’ them Germans!”
This time that scarecrow was cut to ribbons.

Sarge shouts out, “March!” off they all sail
Into the nearest pub,
Pints of real ale, a Great War tayle
& Mrs Braithwaite’s grub,
Not looking like Britain’s front line, more like a rambler club.

Scarborough
August 1st
1940


Canto 8: Battle of Britain


God of our fathers, what is man!
That thou towards him with hand so various…
Temper’st thy providence through his short cause
John Milton


 

Alderangriffe

Before dark morning’s ill-lit mystery,
Black Bentley slinks thro’ Royal Tunbridge Wells,
Crunching the gravel road of Calverly,
White villa echoes to its butler’s bells;
Behold Dowding!
Man at the Air Force helm,
Appointment by the King, ‘Defender of the Realm.’

‘Sir,’ was chauffer’d to the centre
Of his Operations room,
“Morning girls, what news the weather?”
“Clear from Deal to Ilfracoombe!”
Cathode BLIPS were growing louder
Bulbs scarletting the gloom,
Models traverse imaginary air,
The stick-work of a master croupier.

“…forty… sixty… eighty… & more
Bandits fast approaching
The Southern shore…” with clammy claw
Pluck’d thistle struck Dowding,
“Send five squadrons to intercept,” his ties unloosening.

Biggin Hill
August 13th
1940


 

Royal Air Force

“Queen to Bishop seven… that’s check & mate!”
Squeals Ginger up to Squadron-Leader Bligh,
Now crackling speakers call them to their fate,
The summonstir to scramble & to fly!
From ‘Tally ho!’
To cruising thro’ blue skies,
With bold “Bandits below!” they swoop to scoop a prize.

“…in the field of human conflict
Have so many owed so much
To so few!” O how hearts were prick’d
By Churchill’s Tyrtaean touch,
“You know, Nigel, we shan’t be lick’d!”
Both of their spirits such
They crave the day & that day’s victory
As if they wait for Spain off Tilbury.

Bligh conducts a daisy-cutter,
Keen to renew the fray,
“Spot of dinner?” he join’d Ginger,
“A wizard show today!”
The ground crew shout, “She’s ready Nige!” to cockpit, “Chocks away!”

Kenley
August 15th
1940


 

Bombing the Reich

They watch’d the wonder of the Milky Way,
Where Phaeton’s crashing chariot did scorch
A splash of stars awash with Hera’s spray,
Like glitter in the trail of Luna’s torch;
As Mondenschein
Silvers the cloudy seas,
These steel wings aquiline float on propeller breeze.

Xaver basks in chic revelrie
Infesting the late night bars,
Vesta’s disturb’d tranquility
As the sirens sound for Mars,
Flak throws up bright hostility
Where searchlights sweep the stars…
“What a disgraceful form of War to wage!”
Storm sleep-robb’d about shelters in a rage.

She crawls outside to count the cost,
Picks up the sky-pamphlet,
The War is lost while you are boss’d
By Hitler’s cabinet!”
“Now they have started something!” “Der Fuhrer shall finish it!”

Berlin
August 28th
1940


 

The Blitz

In fight for life found class distinction fades,
dying never showed a discriminating face:
serge or barathea alike to Hun or death
Peter Fahy

***

The scales are tilting from Fighter Command,
Fresh empty seats at meal-times ev’ry day,
How terrible the strain upon that band,
Then here they come again, the cross & grey!
Twelve hundred planes
In eight-square miles of sky,
Bringing still-burning rains to churn the old Thames dry.

At the exposed heart of Empire
Has the world curtail’d all sense?
Sirens squeal & children cry a
Lament for lost innocence,
Mason’ry crumbles into fire,
Here Andersson’s defence
Lies mangl’d in a corrugated heap,
Besdie the mess charr’d infants seem asleep.

The half-lights shine beneath the ground
On tunnels & platforms,
Tho’ songs abound sleep passes round
These e’er fidgeting dorms
Of whiskey, fags, soft sneaky shags & hopes for lonely homes.

Kings Cross
September
1940


 

Death of Sue Johnstone

Altho’ night fell the pigeon flocks took flight,
Docks shining with an eerie daytime glow,
Upspurting flames, the stark stench of cordite,
& all those falling rafters in a row;
Above them all
Those gutsy men still came,
Relentless to their goal, that capital aflame.

Yon Thames’ bonnie estu’ry
& its looping curvatures,
Each anti-aircraft battery
Pointed accusing fingers,
A bubbling, peasoup cemet’ry,
Devilish defences,
A lottery, but at thy number’s root,
You’d better bag yersel’ a parachute!

Her blazing staircase made her freeze,
& soon the flames arrive,
Upon her knees, thro’ smoke-fill’d wheeze,
“At least the kids survive!”
As clutching lovely teddy bears their mother burnt alive.

Poplar
September 16th
1940


 

Battle of Britain

Paladin Goering hurls his armada
To lure those starving airmen to demise,
Another Phlegra, another Zama
Unfolds upon the frail blue meadow skies;
“Now is the time!”
Ring-fingers fist a THWACK!
From Cherbourg to Trondheim his Luftflotten attack.

Nigh on ev’ry plane was scrambl’d
As the bloody crux was fed,
In battle royale entangl’d
Thro the smoky swirl-skies spread,
Where the fate of Britain dangl’d
On such a slender thread,
Unless this loss of pilots sooner staunch’d
Tomorrow sees the invasions be launch’d.

Christ-blood stream from its crucifix
Rain’d onto streets aflame,
Firedrake antics, like sixty-six,
But this time Lady Dame
Shone brilliant defiance as wave after wan wave came.

London
September 15th
1940


 

Bligh’s Capture

There is a heat at the heart of battle
Which only the heroical may bare,
Molder’s aim unlooses brutish rattle,
Sends Ginger smithereening into air;
Death-barber’d cry
Peals from that pilot’s end,
For Squadron-Leader Bligh has lost his bestest friend.

He fell upon the Major’s tail
With bleak, red mist descending,
Let off such lethal eight-gun hail,
It seem’d t’were never-ending,
Yet rages are condemned to fail
‘Gin such skilful wending…
For being blind in pursuit of vengeance
He’d almost flown atop the shores of France.

Some sharp-eyed coastal battery,
Blasted the wings off Bligh,
His chute <THWACKS> free, proclivity
Drifts slowly thro’ the sky,
Towards those waiting muzzles with a bitter-season’d sigh

France
September 19th
1940


 

The Living Blitz

As sirens fire, up to his office roof
For visions halieutic Norman climbs,
He’d lost too much at cards, so rose aloof
From crude & clutter’d fleshpits of these times;
As was his right,
Special immunity,
Felt he, death’s chances sleight in such a vast city.

Perusing London’s ‘Bright Young Things,’
Play ‘No Man’s Land’ twyx dances,
Sense-numbing battle slowly brings
Growing insouciances,
Borne stubborn by phlegmatic wings,
Tea-time in the manses,
As all, through the capital panoply,
Grew calm, as sleep panope in the sea.

“We share such bloodymindedness,
If Hitler thinks we’ll crack,
He’ll find in us the kind that does
Not kowtow to attack,”
Thought Norman as a cautious chauffer roll’d into the back.

France
September 26th
1940


 

Destiny of War

Refraining from his guttaral bombast
Hitler convers’d calmly over luncheon,
“The season for the sea-invasion pass’d,
Then let us continue bombing London…”
A sad truth aired,
“This war now beckons long,
Tho’ not fully prepared our will shall prove too strong.”

“England” spoke thwarted conqueror,
Cousins willing to admire,
Has subjugated India
With far superior fire,
Her Raj precursors our Russia…
But… her global empire
Must be destroy’d when all this fighting ends,
When all I wanted was to be their friends.”

“Russia!?” says Hess in stark surprise,
“Why yes, it has to be!”
Divining eyes gaze to the skies,
Our one true enemy,
Whose rabbits must be swiftly slain or chain’d in slavery.”

Berlin
October
1940