Canto 24: The Crush of War

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



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.

June 16th


The Soviet Advance

Hitler has led his Greater Germany
Inside the nightmare of a three-front war,
Vast arms defend his eastern ‘victory,’
Just merest handfuls watch the Norman shore;
From post to post
A rigid, nail’d defence;
The Allied armies toasts such frigid martial sense.

What courage follows for the fight
In the Feste Platze fortresses,
Without water, hope, nor 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-sobs ignored,
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.

June 22nd


The 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.

June 22nd


Bomb Plot

Noblesse oblige, when duty outranks praise,
Stauffenburg slips his oath’s constrictive grip,
Mindful of Mankind’s most valourous 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


Hitler’s Vengeance

They say in the night all the cats look grey,
Suspicion falls on all but his closest,
The ‘coup’ has fizzl’d out by close of day,
Its circle of usurping soul-depress’d;
“Ich bin OK!”
Volk hears his scratchy voice,
“See Providence display my destiny her choice…”

Financiers of treachery,
Defyers of a despot,
Are dealt with brute efficiency,
Von Stauffenburg’s precious plot,
“Long live our sacred Germany!”
He shouts as he is shot,
I wish you could have seen his dying face,
So weightless, free of doubt & full of grace.

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

July 21st



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.

July 29th


Death in the Jungle

While blood cells white from septic sores outpour,
Having swapp’d one prison for another
Slater conducts a bloody one-man war,
Slaughtering patrols, breaking for cover;
At makeshift camp
Daily body wither’d,
Where, fixing an old lamp, his whole body shiver’d.

Sensing that his life outslipping,
He thought about his father,
Sweatsunk rivulets e’er dripping…
Then slain by Malaria;
Thro’ his bloated, blue corpse ripping
Outgnaw calliphora…
Attracted by that 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.


Warsaw Rising

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.




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 collaboraters,
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

August 26th

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