At the gates of heaven
he did not know the names
beyond the bombing bay.
But many miles away
he could still see the flames
judging the dead in Dresden.
How bitter to abandon the King Tiger,
long 88 pointed toward the blackened sky;
to flee west for three days in the spring snow
from the T34s of the Red Army;
to toss the Luger, and wave the white flag,
a riddled rag mocked by the grinning victors;
to receive a rifle butt to the jaw
and not a bar of Hershey’s Chocolate;
to wake, with a headache, to a small breakfast
of mud and grass, a cup of yellow piss;
to struggle to hold up a brother in arms,
captured in newsreels that taunt to this day;
to turn your collar toward the camp of saints,
condemned to bear the whips and scorns of time.
Above the reeds the red clouds gather.
The boats moored at the river bank
reflect the blood, half full of water.
If only we knew whom to thank.
We look up at the darkening sky,
sun as if sinking, moon aflame,
the figurative language a lie,
and know for sure life is to blame.
13 August 2014