Canto 19: Underbelly


So, in the universe’s
Consummated undoing,
Our seraphs of white mercies
Shall hover round the ruin
Elizabeth Barrett Browning


 

Ousting Il Duce

Italia! Nearest heaven on Earth!
For poesia thou art perfect foil,
Where suckl’d Rhea’s sacred sons from birth,
Mars roams & rakes once more thy the war-slak’d soil!
Thy capital
Suffers bombs midst beauty,
Its Grand Fascist Council has summon’d Il Duce…

The coup chair’d by Badaglio,
“Our contree is in turmoil,
Thus, Mussolini, ‘YOU MUST Go!”
Fat man’s blood begins to boil,
He look’d around, “Et tu Ciano!?”
Caught in a traitor’s coil,
Dismiss’d summararily by the King –
Arrested next; nursing his broken wing,

He wander’d o’er a pirate isle
Of coves & cliffs & peaks,
Whiling the while in strict exile,
Where but a soft sea speaks
& reliques of our handsome days age slowly to antiques.

Ponza
July 27th
1943


 

The Theft of Europe

As train pulls into the stazione
Out steps Goering in silky pantaloons,
To kommandeer the art of a country,
Pocket Europa’s beautiful dubloons;
Such bandit runs
Reichsbank vault-hoards imbue,
When under Nazi guns who would dare to argue?

This perfum’d, man-mountain of flab
About Golconda lurches,
Conducting graceful smash & grab
On galleries & churches,
This Raphael, that marble slab
Kindling taste entices;
A jackal trawling thro’ those gilded stalls,
Collecting choicest items for his walls.

He loaded stalwarts of rare art
Into his carriages,
As engines start, to ease his heart,
Thro’ thick ringed fingers,
Bright gems cascade for men self-made need re-assurances.

Rome
August
1943


 

Escape from Treblinka

They’d heard the news, they knew the end was near,
Lugubrious, life pass’d knee-deep in death,
But now, O day of God, the day is here!
When valour fills the spheregusts of each breath;
The storeroom seiz’d,
Its weapons handed out,
The panickers appeas’d, the worried drain’d of doubt,

As one, four hundred storm the camp
Pierceing the wire to freedom,
Behind them rose the rumbling  stamp
Of soldiers searching for ’em,
“Hide down there man, it might be damp,
But away I’ll lead ’em,
& free you when the coast is clear, dear friend!”
“Thank-you,” hugs Jankiel as his feet descend

Those cellar steps, those secret stones,
Those keepers of his fate:
Treblinka groans, Treblinka’s drones
Were his to rubricate,
Whatever fallen Nazis in the future fabricate.

Maliszewa
August 2nd
1943


 

Piercing the Continent

Where these twin swirling ancyent oceans meet,
Charybdis whirls by the rock of Scylla,
Today sail stout ships of the Allied fleet
Across the sunsunk straits of Messina;
Led by th’English,
Invading the mainland,
Where enslaved peoples wish safe passage for the band.

They cross’d in hush’d tranquillity,
Unoppos’d & without fear,
Led by motorboated Monty,
Shoreline drawing ever near,
The sloshing sea, the jollity,
The picnic atmosphere…
To cheers they plant the old union flag,
Then tread the Cardini for the Reichstag.

From the Blue waters of the Nile,
To swelt’ring Tripoli,
Mile after mile of Afric trial,
The surge thro’ Sicily,
The Eighth army has finally set foot in Italy.

Calabria
September 3rd
1943


 

Conquest of Italy

Languor usurps the last coragio,
The fair share of the fighting has been fought,
No faith to summon Jupiter Stator,
Arms thrown aside men made for safest port;
From Alpine mists
The Tramontana blows,
Summoning fresh fascists, vile packs of Nazi crows.

As when the mighty Alaric,
A Magister Militum,
Entering the streets sardonic
Of old Mediolanum,
He with instancy laconic
Beat Visigothic drum,
Announcing to these Ceasar citizens,
“I seize this land, my daughters, & my sons.”

Altho’ the temple of Janus
Hath closed it’s doors to war,
Hitler’s panzers, like tight lancers,
Roll with a clank & roar,
Thro’ Rome’s gorgeous museum streets pepper’d with tombs of yore.

Rome
September 10th
1943


 

A Dramatic Rescue

Humming Heinkels drew gliders deft in tow,
Releas’d them on the buxom welken swell,
Now floating to Gran Sasso, far below,
Capp’d by snow patches & this white hotel;
From splintering,
Flimsy, crashdown gliders,
Strong men rush outpouring, like brave gladiators!

The bungling gaurds jump’d out of bed,
Caught in canine siesta,
Il Duce shouts down, “No bloodshed!”
Some damsel in her tower,
A gen’ral rais’d goblet of red,
Toasted, “To the victor!”
Gobbl’d one gulp by Otto Skorzeny,
“Mein herr, please take me to Mussolini!”

“Der Fuhrer bids ye form fascist
Republic North of Rome…
Hitting the gist Il Duce kiss’d
His saviour, “then back home,
I’ll go?” he mumbl’d humbly, sunken shadow in the gloam.

Abruzzi Appennines
September 12th
1943


 

Rejuvenations

Moscow’s Bears awake from hibernation,
Claws sharpen’d for coming reconquista,
Azazelian annhialation,
Torrents from a horrent-arm’d ballista;
Stalin demands
Eevry god-damn german
Expel’d is from his lands, or rots there in the sun.

Altho’ they knew the war was lost,
& drown’d in diarreah,
Each man morphs to a sturdy schloss
To fight on for Der Fuhrer,
An iron or a wooden cross,
Loyally together,
For if great Germany wins not the war,
What else in life is there worth living for?

From Smolensk to Sevastapol
The Wehrmacht, on the rack,
Bred in battle deadly skillful,
Are daily pulling back,
Bursting each mouse-trap circle thro’ exfiltrative attack.

The U.S.S.R
September
1943


 

War’s Shadow

Armour’d car swept up the serpentine road
Of the mount of Saint Benedict’s abbey,
General steps out, clutching silver sword,
Eyes saccading oer the Liri Valley;
A position
Ruling wide area,
“They must take it before Casilina…”

Boot nails echoed round the cloisters
Where stood Dom Gregorio,
Flank’d by seven very pious
Monks of Montecassino,
“To stay here would be dangerous…”
“No! no! we cannot go!”
“Very well, but may I suggest, promptly,
Transport thy treasures for safe sanctuary.”

They placed gold-laced legatura,
Corali, tapestries,
Mellin, Conca, Solimena,
& bibles in lorries;
Each guarded by two monks driven to Roman galleries.

Italy
October 16th
1943


 

A Game of Chess

The workers spent their hard-earn’d half an hour
Gather’d around blindfolded Botvinik,
Barely exercising his chess power,
Beating some patzer with a knight’s fork trick;
Purposeful cough
Disturbs the ego show,
He takes the blindfold off, a message from Moscow!

As foreman perused the pages
Of that amazing letter,
“It seems, Mikhael, you are famous,
No more a mere sheet cutter,
With you lies Russia’s fate in chess
When the war is over…”
“Yes,” said Botvinik “a war we shall win…”
Nobody there dared doubt his knowing grin.

As he work’d upon the Dragon,
Sharp Yugoslav Attack,
White’s H pawn on the sixth… “White’s won…
What’s this?” An exchange sac –
Forth, with furious energy, the forces broke for black.

The Ural
October
1943

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