Canto 30


The dust from the battlefield
Made the entire universe dirty
Svayambu


 

P.O.W.

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 healty 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

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 over at last
&, to top their dinners,
“I’ve bin ter Flossy Bennets fer a pound o’ bananas!”

Burnley
Christmas Day
1945


 

The Last Grunfeld

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


 

Two Mothers

“We’re shackin’ up mam!” sez Maggie Sumner,
Rose gave a joyous blessing with her tears,
How handsome was this Seargent Dillinger
If only she could turn back thirty years…
….& then… bombshell,
Love-bubble dissipates
“Butt Mam, prepare y’sell… we’re livin’ in the States!”

They pledge their troth at Saint Mary’s,
Honeymoon by Morecambe sea,
Then a tayle for childhood fairies
Very far from family,
Maggie drives past countless dairies,
Carlton points at a tree…
“I used to climb that as a boy!” he said,
His white farm-house cresting the mount ahead.

Rita’s life-reason, ripest pearl,
Returns to her by car,
Her senses swirl, who is this girl?”
“Maggie, come meet mah ma!”
Well aint ya girl just beautiful!” Maggie replies a “Ta!

Jerkwater
1946


 

Grand Palace of Justice

Of an empire born & drown’d in crimson,
Naught but wire-zones by conq’rers occupied,
Cigs, soap & shoes fuse with prostitution,
High-browed JUSTICE combing the countryside;
How deft they sought
Those pale, arch-criminals
Array’d in Hitler’s court… evil’s first disciples.

Faced with denoument for their crimes,
These cauterized men appear
As scapegoats for those crazy times,
Televised throughout the year,
Where daily with his honour climb’d
One dashing cavalier
With ever-present energy, Goering,
Still preaching loyally for his darling.

Forjudgement pluck’d from fearsome well
Of hard-fought opinion,
Harken! Doom bell! The Reichmarshall
Swallows secret poison,
His comrades don the sack… noose… trapdoor… <THWACK>… oblivion…

Nuremburg
1947


 

Friends & Family

Across the dusty bush the long ways wind,
Inside a bus young Danny thought of ‘things,’
His best mate, Slater, mainly on his mind,
The driver drawls, “Welcome to Alice Springs!”
White men mingling
With Aboriginee,
Pass’d thro’ him spine-tingling homecoming energy.

He bumm’d a lift in Richie’s Ute,
Went hurtling thro’ the Outback,
Neath powd’ry wheels pink lizards shoot
As the tarmac turn’d to track,
‘Tween rusted shears & gnarly boot
They park’d by Slater’s shack,
“G’day,” says Bruce outstepping from the truck,
Dan shook not human hand, but shook a hook.

They spent the evening downing beer
& reminiscing Shane,
The stars appear, they toast a cheer,
“In sunshine, wind or rain
He ran those bastards ragged!” “That’s my boy!” pride hides his pain.

Australia
1949


 

Jewish Homeland

As when an absent husband’s footfalls near
The restless, sleepless bed & echo loud
All thro’ an iron house, when wives appear
As naked fields of pleasure to be plough’d;
The promised land,
With its people conjoins,
Hebrew at the news-stands bought by these brand new coins.

The pages of the Exodus
Mirrors to the modern Jews,
Those ictims of witch-hunt purges,
Reviled for sacred values,
Having since the march of Titus
Wander’d Europa’s views,
Millennial persecutions endured,
Until the cause of all those woes here cured.

Anna Grunfeld got off the train
End of the torrid line,
To start again, despite the pain,
Beneath a pure sunshine –
Where after two Millenia Moses views Palestine.

Jerusalem
1948


 

Death of Stalin

While hatching plans of ditching Russia’s Jews
In Gulags grim, his last & ghastly whim,
A life of drinking drains a body’s fuse,
His doctors afear’d even to touch him;
Bright morning sun
Lights rooftop Muscovy,
For him forever gone this nevermore shall see.

The Devil & his Grandmother
Blend with the loyal people,
Unopporobrious enigma
Of his feted funeral,
Despite intolerant terror;
Largely responsible
For forty million dead citizens –
& all those lads slain by the Nazi guns.

What hordes of terracottan rows
To this procession came,
From steppe & snows, to stop & pause
By monster, death-still, tame;
Extensional subordinates of an unearthly fame.

Moscow
1953


 

A Game of Ten-Pin

The Warsaw Pact has drawn the battle- lines,
America looks ‘underneath the bed,’
Searching for proof of KGB designs,
From now on anyone could be a Red!
Pledging belief,
Witchfinders bind the air,
Negrodom breathes relief, the hate channel’d elsewhere.

“Have fun!” call’d Maggie Dillinger
To her husband & his pal,
Coolest Choctaw from Croatia,
Porter down the hospital,
Boys high-five the happy driver –
The chubby-cheek’d Big Al –
Together them went roaring off to bowl,
The nickels toss’d, their team sheet pins the wall…

All was ultra-jingoism,
They shouted Ivan’s name,
Communism, lib’ralism,
Perhaps they’re just the same,
They bann’d him from the bowling club before he’d play’d a game.

Jerkwater
1958

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