Canto 39: Slaughter’s End

Rescue this man from his mustache,
curling so proudly, while inside he tears
his hair

Rumi


 

Cambrai

The summer turns to Autumn, turns to mud,
Despite the shite the ‘Big Push’ pushes on,
The German sentries frozen where they stood,
What is this ‘thing?’ this king phenomenon;
This iron-clad
Slow rumbling to their lines,
The World is going mad, the World & its designs!

More lethal than the brazen bull,
O miraculous machines!
Attack the military squall
Carrying brushwood facines
To plug the trenchs, on they roll,
The Germans rout in scenes
Of panic over tussocky grassland –
The British have no cards left in the hand,

No reserves to exploit the gap,
& the crews exhausted,
Counter attack, the ground aon back,
A captain scratch’d his head,
Cursing the moments wasted as he pasted up the dead.

Marcoing
November 27th
1917


 

Soviet Dawn

Two trains pass, two souls slumb’ring in the car,
Entering… exiting… the theatre,
The last, the royal person of the Tsar,
The first, emergant comrade from Georgia;
Stalin breaks free,
Siberia behind,
He flutters on the freedom of the releas’d mind.

As the Commissars took their place
All the Soviets now one,
The Bolsheviks bore Hemlock face,
Control the railway station,
Banks, Post Office, Winter Palace,
The city all but won –
Their faustian Lenin seizes power,
Resplendent in his magnificent hour.

Comrades offering obeyance
Kept him on a promise,
This fresher stance, forget poor France,
What new found wisdom this?
A warring empire, humbl’d, probing for an armistice.

Petrograd
Oktober
1917


 

Death of the Red Baron

Young Nigel Bligh, bestriding flying horse,
Fresh from the Cam & now a fledgeling part
Of the recently form’d Royal Air Force,
Sits chomping at the bit for it to start;
Propellor whirls,
Up-up, up & away!
The glory & the girls must court him from this day.

He saw a duel oer Morlaincourt,
An Albatross & Camel,
The British plane drops with a roar,
So in Bligh sped to battle,
His spits out bullets by the score,
With a murd’rous rattle,
A bullet in his lungs the Baron drown’d
In blood, his triplane spiralling to ground.

“I hope he roasted all the way,
That bastard of the sky!”
“O frabjous day, Calloo, callay!”
Three cheers for Nigel Bligh,
A gorgeous gladiator with elation in his eye.

Vaux-sur-Somme
April 21st
1918


 

German Offensive

Reading Nietzsche, muse-immured in Homer,
Herr Hitler huddles in his solitude,
“An allright sort of chap, but a loner,”
His comrades say, “Tho with spirit imbued!”
One fitful dream,
One lord over it all,
Released with banshee scream Satanus caught his soul!

Herr Goering flies above the ground
Where stormtrooper religions
With one desire to kill & wound
Like diabolique engines
Roll thro stunn’d trenches, hard boots pound
Cats among the pigeons,
With camauflage & special torpedo
A surge of strength wherever they may go.

Max Stemmler’s unit must advance
He kiss’d Aimee goodbye,
“Our sweet Constance best left in France,”
Their babe began to cry –
As off he rush’d up to the front their tender dream did die.

Flanders
June
1918


 

Imperial Dusk

Conscious of its manifest destiny,
Tho’ barely now a pawn of Man’s Great Game,
The fledgeling wings of eagle Liberty
Spreads oer the world, fanning the flames of fame;
Her noble cause,
Industrious resolve,
Shall salve the Old World’s sores & fractious fights there solve.

Naught could curtail the disaster
Of the Teutonic disgrace,
From holes dank half-men surrender,
Happiness etch’d in each face,
On all sides it seems Der Kaiser
Has lost his crucial race
To win the War before the sure deadline…
America has stiffen’d Britain’s spine!

Across the scene was slowly drawn
A curtain waste & long,
On Fred’rick’s throne, sate limp & lone,
The culprit joins the throng
Increasing in volumity, wondering what went wrong?

Potsdam
September 29th
1918


 

Ottoman Winter

Empires are born as glass is born of sand
Then turn to sand, scarlet sands Syrian
Are roam’d by one born of another land,
Laird of the head-dress’d horsemen of Hejan;
Fair Lawrence leads
King Feisal’s cavalry
Upon fine, strong-thigh’d steeds behind an enemy.

Thro’ olive grove & fields of grain
Wind the streets of Megiddo
Blows bloody fall as stormswept rain,
White the hot-edged sabres glow
As dim-spawn’d devils deal in pain
Angels honoours bestow,
As thro the battleground of the furies
Tread the Fates with JUSTICE & her juries…

As Visigoths view’d the Tiber,
Life left Alexander,
Fat Emperor of Helena,
& died Montezuma…
The Turks are toss’d from Syria with all their vile terror.

Arabia
October 1st
1918


 

New Directions

Max Stemmler bid a last farewell to France,
His mistress & the babe wrapt in her arms,
That sweet, little cherub she call’d Constance,
A better name to hear round Flander’s farms;
One final kiss
To evermore lament,
Leaving his love a ‘miss,’ leaves with his regiment.

Two Juden breakfast in Berlin,
A city dispirited,
From sure, so sure, they had to win,
To totally defeated,
While Jakob takes it on the chin,
Moses felt quite cheated,
“Brother, for us see this through together,
You take Frankfurt & I’ll take Vienna.”

Charlie sat in the Old Nag’s Head
With his beloved Rose,
“Love, let’s get wed” “Alright,” she said,
As giddy guiness flows,
“Time,” roars the landlord… “Its turn’d eleven,” “Aye, them’s new laws!”

Burnley
October
1918


 

Death of Owen

The choice & master spirits of an age
Spread piety, think deep, & deal in gore,
Or lay soft-spoken thoughts upon the page…
A poet knocks upon a poet’s door;
“Goodbye Seigreid,
My service is required,
But thanks to you my mead of poetry inspired.”

With vitesse vigour freshly found
He surged back to the battle,
Back to the brawl, back to the sound
Of teeth gnashing eternal,
It seem’d for him the world had found
A finer crucible,
For here amid the bloodshed & the rage
One could sense the poesis of an age.

He paced along the slowboat boards,
Urging men as they fell,
Damocles swords & twanging cords,
The Captain hears the knell
The old lie sounded, “To die in battle is to die well!”

Ois-Sambre Canal
November 4th
1918


 

Dynastic Epithet

Of churning turns of history make ware,
Accelerating thro’ a century
On which the gaze of history shall stare
Astonish’d at such Human enmity;
Like teenagers
Torn from their mobile phones,
Society rages, exploding with hormones!

Brandenburg’s bold marquisate
Brought the world to war for years,
On Coromandel war ships sat
While Culloden shed cool tears,
But now the legacy grown fat,
The old house disappears,
The royal brood enforced to abdicate,
Where once was loyal breeds now only hate.

Same fate bestow’d on the Kaiser
As the Sinean Kings,
Montezuma & Mombaza,
Gem-crusted Moghul rings…
An emperor forced to flutter with foreign schmetterlings.

Holland
November 9th
1918

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