Tag Archives: European History

A German Requiem

Incense-misted eyes

throats baulked with pride,

scars reddened by droplets

a hand wiping spittle

from the Breviary’s page;

Drought-mouthed elegies

to ribbons burdened

by weights of guilt,

gleaming handle farewells

accompanied by Bach

to the warrior hearts

swollen with longing,

marking time with

the limping clock;

Yearning, yearning

for visions

wrought into maps,

iron-ore mountains

forged into Tanks

and nights of gasoline

when the Sea

of Ages parted

and Schnapps was Wagner

in our heads.

With Good Intentions

Tears welled in his eyes,
his breast filled with relief,
another young life saved;
his surgical skills
again exonerated,
despite the excruciating cramp
around his fingers and
stiffness in his joints;
Master Surgeon still after
all these very long years,
shuffling down the corridor
eyes wearied by concentration,
flickering billowing gaslight
making it seem darker still;
He had saved a very precious
young life, that knowledge lit
his footsteps the way out,
out into the daylight;
A great doctor who had
fretted and performed
near surgical miracles,
now face to face
with the anxious mother,
“ Is He..? ”
“ He is fine,there are no complications ”
“ when he fell ill,I thought he might die ”
“ no worries now,I’m sure your son will
enjoy a long and happy life ”
“ Thank you Herr Doktor ”
“ Good day, Frau Hitler,”

A Brief History of Britain

Faded, forlorn

the banners of our memories

once held high now cast aside,

cast down,

trodden into the dust

by legions of those

who came after in ignorance;

Even the ghosts have departed

this empty husk

of a once was Power

this paralysed parody

of those Sceptered Isles,

that seat of Mars crumbled

overwhelmed by the deluge

that took from our hearts

those Heroes whose deeds

validated all that we stood for;

All that we ever believed in

is now counted as the small-change

amongst market traders

whom we let barter our very souls

for a mess of pottage ;

Whilst entombed in our sonorous sloth ,

they took from us all that had once been

vouchedsafe by Viking ,Saxon ,Norman

for so long so very long an Age;

In our belated awakening

we find ourselves naked,

caught in the glare of a history

which no longer recognises

nor has need of us

in this our unkempt beggarly state,

of which those who once fought for us

would be ashamed

that all their sacrifice

all their pain

had yielded such a paltry gain.

Genesis 1:1

No record was kept of
the name that they
gave to that bird,
vivid yellow and green
welcoming a primeval dawn,
captured on flickering footage
the memory of it kept
alive in black and white;

no-one recalls any longer
how many villagers were
removed from the site of
that first copper mine;

no written record was kept
of their ancient wisdom and
their cosmology long swept away;

sat neatly in rows
they learn anew
from the gaunt apparition
standing in front
of the blackboard,
and tied.

Shipping Office

The great smell of roasted Arabica beans,

the joyous sound of Haydn on the radio,

the grey-green overcoat slung on the rack,

boots dusted down with snow,

shipping office morning;

early yawning,tired greetings,

pages sifted sorted scheduled deliveries,

traffic reports orders from Head Office,

small talk,

family matters,

wallet-sized photographs,

his of Hannah and Gregor

both in Year5 doing well;

an absence of hurrying scurrying down

below in the yards,old hands talking

about the rail no longer punctual;

Daylight passes;

shifts change over

as the train rumbles in,

his thoughts now only of home

and comfort and what presents

to get for Hannah and Gregor;

trudging past big crates

lowered onto the platform,

out of the corner of his eye

he reads their embossed legend,

” Zyklon B “.

Portrait of General After Battle

Smoke wreathed distant battlements,
skies flecked with irridescent amber,
fluttering banners and icons held aloft;
in the foreground
clad in burnished breastplate,
circumferenced by a scarlet sash
a warrior’s imposing stature unfeigned,
lacking the air of braggadocio
conveyed in earlier portraits,
pensive eyes glower from
the bearded visage
its contours grown greyer;
his right hand grasps the
ostentatiously plumed helmet,
in his gauntless left hand a
crumpled map torn at one corner,
overhead crows circle,
to his right riderless horses
are being led away,
his own steed lost amidst
the onslaught that some would
of necessity deem glorious,
lest they unlike the artist
cause posterity to question.

Parallel Lines

Shall I write a poem today?

the tall wire fence is gone,

if I did, what would you say?

the railway tracks are rusted,

the watchtowers have fallen;

what if my inspiration should fail

and words escape me?

the names of their Captains

lie in unmarked graves,

the records of their triumphs have been erased;

how then should I complete my task?

demand History exonerates me

or merely to ask?


Dietrich B.

It wasn’t any power you wielded
that made them afraid ,

it wasn’t your persuasive argument
which they couldn’t counter ,

it wasn’t the numbers following you
that caused them sleepless nights ,

it was the thought
which lingered in their minds
that they were doing wrong
and were bound to fail ;

and of all the people they could think of ,
who they didn’t want around afterwards
giving a witness statement ,
it was you.


Who stands firm? Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all these, when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action: the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call.

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer ( 1906 – 1945 )

Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer stands out among the Christian leaders during the Nazi era, for he was one of the few to actively resist the racist actions of the Nazi regime. In addition to his legacy of courageous opposition to Nazism, Bonhoeffer’s theological writings are still widely read in Christian communities throughout the world.

Viking Longboat

Ancient timbers

cry out mutely

with their ancient voices ,

re-telling tales of earth

and of fire and of water ;

Their hand hewn craft

emissaries of the Fire

that sped long ago

southward and westward

carrying the Will to wield

without mercy the visceral

vengeful terror of Ages ;

Slaking the insatiable thirst

of mysterious deities

who supped on earth

the fire and the water ,

amid cacophonies of ancient oaths

in the re-telling of tales

whose ancient voices

cry out mutely

amid the ancient timbers.