The angels play kettledrums for these dead men:
smiling, sad as colonels handing out medals,
medals for dead men,
medals for warriors who went forth
and multiplied their gift for death,
casting apocalyptic pearls before ungrateful swine,
sowing seeds on infertile ground.
This is war! All will be destroyed.
There will be no garden of liberation.
A tin machine
with angry, jubilant, glorious others underneath
waves in deep trenches of mud:
a second drum-roll of celluloid images
contrived by the avant-garde chosen few,
imagining the burnt out survivors,
their paltry offerings,
their pleading hands wailing.
Now, running away:
not an army, not a parade of green berets,
merely a pawn in the underground,
smelling of piss and fear,
of ammonia and amino acid,
of endings and beginnings.
Soft bellied, raging and ragged,
dragged into the bright
a death march across the chess-board,
remembering soft, pink milky tits
and being blown to bits -
the wind pushing you ever forward.
Forward by His Light,
this infernal God of Zion,
benignly smiling down
on the broken shell
of this broken town.
Broken and breaking down,
you lie on the roof of the world,
staring down into a white free sun,
high as sky high love light,
white shadows before your body.
You feel nothing
but these pink tit bits,
this blood, this mud:
hear angels singing
alongside the sirens...
soft and gentle, touching you with their wounds,
drifting like chiffon dressed brides dancing through corn,
drifting like Christ on his cross, illuminating bodies far below
sprayed in meat bits across this charnel ground,
rusted metal dreams unsprung, like tank bits rattling
to the timpani of exploding shell casings,
a crease of cordite
ensnaring your senses.
Such pain in these dreams:
red as aerated blood,
sharp as a cut-throat razor.
The red leaking out into the soil,
leaching the body of all vitality,
leaving it blue as winter's breath.
Hopeless, this dreaming of something white:
hopeless, this dreaming of something soft.
You remember only, how to breathe.
Breathe, nearly naked small boy at her breast,
free like wind, eat up the Earth,
like swimming in warm amniotic fluid.
Sustenance in your belly:
a field-mouse caught unawares,
caught in the snare of your broken hands,
once, so here and now,
How red meat disgusts!
You remember other times...
Shells exploding all around you,
thick clouds of acrid smoke,
the burning at the back
of your throat.
You didn't stay
and die like all the others.
You didn't talk of home-cooking,
of cricket matches on village greens.
life is not a piece of cake.
Now you croak, in your blood-gargled throat,
in asphyxiating toxic mud: the corporal cries out
last one into the bunker's a dead man
Bombers pass overhead, grinding the sky
to gunmetal dawn. A second sun
rises in the East. You hear your mouth
leading you down the rutted road
towards death: a red maiden
walking the red squares of the chess board.
You are frightened by these half-starved hallucinations,
command them in a whisper to
Nothing else: too ragged for flight, too week to fight.
They strike, like orange-red flowers of death,
like an orgasm of Christ-light,
the swollen blinking of schrapnel,
the thundercrash of the master race.
Death slinks away, leaving moon-craters
in fields of brilliant fertility.
Your legs twitch
with the itch to run away,
but movement doesn't come.
Then a sense of tranquillity descends:
fear backs out the door,
leaving you alone -
a serotonin flood of unexplained joy
lodged in your brain, like a stone.
You sense death approaching
like an aching virgin bride,
her hands outstretched and glowing.
She is Mary, the woman of sorrows,
melting in a river of salt water...
and then she is gone, gone, gone.
Voices, echoing through liquid:
they call you back to the here and now
of corpses and gunshot orchestras,
the serenade of mustard gas
and you replay and replay
the same old worn out can of film -
you are running back
to the small, shelled town
where, only days before,
you were strung out and toxic,
waiting for orders to advance.
You are running back. No fragment of your being
moved to false heroics.
Absenting yourself without leave
because you couldn't take leave of your senses.
I am running back
No falling for the stoic myth:
you dream of flying free,
lying in the blood-soaked earth,
under the cover of charred, scorched fronds
that once were crops.
See her coming to you, blond hair in pleats.
A corn dolly. A hallucination:
the devil dancing on a fiery sea of stones.
Let my hometown fry in a firestorm, you mutter,
grateful for release from this war. Then you see her,
her pink tits milking your thirsty mouth,
an angel emissary of the starving deity:
you hear her bagpipe wail, her disarray,
the mocking cabaret of dead men,
the vile smell of freight trains.
I am nothing, you cry out into the night,
a man-swat fly of fear,
a part of those who would strike out
at a random bunch, a random race...
be they ugly or Christ-like and gentle.
You are running towards faraway hills,
an early small boy naked:
feel nothing now but your lungs...
remembering how to breathe.
Running now, a scream tore her...
to free her breast like the wind,
that you may eat up the Earth.
Her teats like matchwood, leading your mouth to death.
Stones on the red squares of this board.
Here lies an unknown soldier.
when the orders came in.
Here, there is no garden of England:
no return to the soft rebate of hills,
the rose twines of church gates
and Sunday roast cricket.
You will never eat from
these bodies burnt, twisted, torn
in soft brown moist gravy,
an idyll of rural angels and chess boards,
red & white gingham of schoolgirl innocence.
This is the wretchedness of all this bloody war:
there can never be a return.
These medals are for killers.
This kingdom, this green and pleasant land,
is a lie, a satin wrapped syphilitic whore.
There is nothing left in this burnt out aftermath:
nothing to breathe;
just this torn pink tit of flesh in your side
(and no pain anymore)
just a choir of vengeful angels
singing you down to dust:
so, you are Christ
and all red meat disgusts.
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