Canto 14:

 


To require of strength that it should not express itself as strength, that it should not be a desire to conquer, a desire to subdue, a desire to to become master, a thirst for enemies & resistances & triumphs, is just as absurd as to require of weakness that it should express itself as strength
Frederick Nietzsche


Close Run Thing

Stalag luft twelve bustl’d with goons & drones,
‘How terribly boring,’ thought restless Bligh,
Now sauntering to Flight-Leftenant Jones,
Who spies a twinklefox in Nigel’s eye,
“Tonights the night!
Are the cutters ready…”
Life’s valued action bright for life & liberty.

Stars fire & thro’ the wire they went
With never a half-look back,
Shunning Sol’s harvest fluorescent
March’d thro night’s covering black,
The dark Black Forest three weeks spent,
They climb’d into a stack…
Dawn swallowing the last of her moonbeams,
The Ranz des Vaches resounding round their dreams.

To gunshot & Teutonic shout
They woke up with a fright,
Rough bundl’d out, fell’d with a clout
They stood up to such sight…
Almost touching the Heaven slopes of some Helvetian height.

Hoch Finstermunz
March
1942


 

Swing Youth

Not every German struts about like Geese,
Some still prefer to swing the jinx away,
That unencumber’d, evergreen release
Teenagers feel when real musicians play;
Eurythmical,
Each gramaphonic scratch
Comblendeth mystical new music without match.

Young Xaver Stemmler caught the drug
Grew his hair an awfa’ long,
Goes wiggling thro’ the jitterbug
In good English sang along,
When puffing like a paddletug,
Settling himself among
The girls, he curls a cigarette, or two,
Sits back & swoons, impassion’d, at the view.

“In here there is no Nazi yoke,
In here feel liberty,”
He lit a smoke, he bit a toke,
He blew the white rings free,
For on the floor lush fraulines laugh’d flush with frivolity.

Berlin
March
1942


 

Swinging Pendulums

Though the struggle has taken a dangerous turn,
though the Germans amuse themselves wuth the fascist chimera
we shall repel our enemies
Dem’ian Bednyi

The winter offensive melts with the snow,
Two great enemies lay down exhausted,
The roads dissolving to a muddy flow,
The front is fix’d, time swung to count the dead;
The German’s score
One million underground,
The Russians many more, what first titanic round!

“Comrades of the fascist Jihad
Let us combine our forces,
Strike from the southern launching pad,
Conquering the Caucasus,
A prompt capture of Stalingrad
Cuts off Red resources,
& following, roll up the Volga’s banks
To penetrate Moscow upon all flanks!”

The pendulum swings back due East,
Stalin’s armies pounded,
More men releas’d, the net increas’d,
All reserves surrounded…
To hoard such feasts of prisoners twelve fresh death camps founded.

Kharkov
May 12th
1942


 

Burma

Thro’ fetid swamps Basho drove his forces,
A filthy bunch of Scousers fell upon,
Had them tight-bound at their soft surrenders,
& order’d bayoneted one-by-one;
Blades wipen’d clean,
Under tropical moon,
They press on thro’ the steam to liberate Rangoon.

Thro’ monsoon & malaria,
With barely a bulldog stand,
The British army in Burma
Thro’ a jungle nightmare fann’d
“Yer on yer own fer India!”
The one clear-cut command…
Whose retreat, in fullness of confusion,
A trail leaves of chaos & destruction.

Basho cross’d the Irrawaddy,
Drove yon the border line,
Eyes sol-lit see raw junglerie
Upon the hills recline,
First bulwark of far-reaching Raj ‘neath Siva’s bleaching shine.

India
May
1942


 

Unread Letters

As Eleanor Stemmler felt herself good,
She couldn’t help but cringe beneath her hat,
Vile members of the Sicherheitsdienst stood
Behind her on the train, what awful chat!
As Russia fell
They’d roar’d all thro’ Ukraine
& drove the Jews to hell, two hundred thousand slain.

That night, with Max, she tried to share
This gossip from the sectors,
Horrescent rumours everywhere,
“Tis nothing but conjectures!”
Her husband huff’d, without a care,
Cold as debt collectors,
“But darling, what if, what if it’s all true?”
“But if it is, my love, what can we do?”

“My friend,” she said, “to Kaunus sent,
I’ve written twenty times…”
“Tis innocent, maybe they went
Elsewhere…” as midnight chimes,
Within the silence marital rise minds in violent crimes.

Berlin
June 2nd
1942


 

Australian Spit

‘The strongest man is mightiest alive,’
Remembers, each dawn, Shane Taylor Slater,
Determin’d, for his father, to survive,
Sensing chances come, sooner or later;
‘Til then, withstood,
All miseries & sun –
Like bluebells in a wood men wilted one-by-one.

To handle such sadistic sin,
Bear such crude brutality,
Phenomenal self-discipline,
Freed from personality,
Was vital, as with dog-bite grin,
Vanishes self-pity,
To live life in the present every day
& all those happy past-lives hold at bay.

For this is where true torture lies –
Not tied to bamboo cane,
Hounded by flies, as back & thighs
Bull-whipp’d by men insane –
Men’s captive reminscences bring them the upmost pain.

Burma
June 6th
1942


 

Midway

Nippon probes the fog-shrouded Aleutians
Those last, little islands near Hawaii,
Four flat-tops flying high the rising suns,
Their flagship, Yamamoto’s Akagi;
Up from the decks,
Like cranes leaving a lake,
Accelerant, convex, each ‘dauntless’ clouds uptake

The dateline cross’d from east to west,
Men steel’d their hearts for valour,
Arising on horizon’s crest
Climbs the target carrier,
In single file planes faced the test,
As, at Balaclava,
The gunneries response is amplified
Crescendowards, ‘twas surely suicide.

The Yorktown sunk… by fate, by luck,
By broken naval codes,
Brewsters amuck those four ships struck,
& so, as Hampton Roads,
Those precious airstrips safely kept, the war’s true crossroads.

Pacific Ocean
June 7th
1942


 

Inferiors

Since Wansee’s vow Nazis have maximis’d
Their social lordship over all the Jews,
Trapp’d in a den, as them dehumaniz’d
In piecemeal motions, widen’d by the news,
This slow process
Of expropriation
Doubles each day’s duress, & its degradations.

From public pools prohibited,
Purchas’d newspapers denied,
Debarr’d from buying firewood,
Civic central kept outside,
Electricals confiscated
With telescopes, as died
The shining light of man’s modernity,
Portcullis closes for eternity.

On recremental lives deposed,
Like swine lacking odour,
Good schools are clos’d, warm homesteads hosed
Down with soap water,
Evicted, cramm’d in hungry camps… cattle to the slaughter

Germany
June
1942


 

Death of Heydrich

King Wenceslas’ crown adorn’d the Hangman
Of Prague, ruling his province arrogant
Enough to be guarded by no real plan…
Thus went his Mercedes, his doom’s advent;
Two patriots
Plot assassination,
Bombslash back’d up by shots… fear flashes thro’ Tschechienne.

While all around the manhunt raged
Killers refuge in a crypt,
But still ruthless Gestapo gauged
Their whereabouts, thusly tipp’d,
Soldiers of the SS engaged
That church as bullets ripp’d
Rank on rank from desperate defenders,
“Reserving last bullets avoids tortures.”

Einsatzgruppen deal the disgust
Of the German peoples,
Beaten & cuss’d, male peasants thrust
Into cellars, stables,
There set alight, their homes destroy’d, wives shot clean thro’ their skulls.

Lidice
June 9th
1942

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