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Saved from the Flames (slightly R)


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Excerpts from Granddad's Diaries

(the bits Grandma couldn't find to burn)


In my younger days I'd gape

at famous people: I was a fool,

when I think about it. I’d forgotten

the old and everlasting rule

that nothing, nobody lasts forever.


Too many friends

having topped themselves,

not very well, hardly

artistically, often with rather

messy consequences


I thought, I felt, well ...


My dear! Have you seen

what a train can do to a human body?

Grotesque! I had to identify

Emil in his various pieces.

Only his signet ring was conclusive.


I thought, but thinking

in those days, as in any day


was not encouraged … I harboured doubts,

let's say, as to whether literature was the path

to tread, waiting for my mind to be pure or totally dead

among many high-strung fine-featured females,

who never once, not once, were seen naked and beguiling,

and who had no intention ever, never,

of becoming naked, or of being beguiling,

as they could have ... so easily done, the bitches,

by sliding happily, gloriously into bed,

by being nice to you, making the whole world

in a moment ten thousand times better.


They carry around their god-given bodies

nervously, without an ounce of comprehension:

words, words, so many words instead.


The mustachioed pale-faced gentlemen

held delicate scented handkerchiefs

to their bony twitching noses, ultra refined,

leaving no echo of the sweat the blood and stink

of Arminius, of the looming Nazi hooligans,

who were coming on, like Werner.


He came up to me at the ‘Babalanka’

one of these forgettable but fantastic

cosy places we used to love in Berlin:

fizzy very bad champagne on the tables,

young girls pretending to be loose and wild

while thinking about Papa, of their riding lessons

on the weekend. Hello, Jew.


That’s what he said. I was so incensed,

amused, I let him believe it. After that,

throughout all my outrageous spying forays,

he protected me. He thought I was a Jew homosexual,

not one but two counts against me. He was

visibly startled and in spite of himself, impressed.

After the war started, not long after,

the Yanks, the Irish, pushed out the boat of neutrality

while the Brits, Canadians and the rowdy Australians,

and even the quiet New Zealanders (all three),

swiftly skedaddled. I was able to pick up

some used furniture on the cheap. The Germans

were not keen on the idea of war. It was obvious

they hated the whole idea. Um Gottes Will,

they said, downing liters at the local, Was soll denn

das alles sein? (the fuck’s this all about then?)


So, no enthusiasm. None whatsoever.

I was scribbling all of this happily down

and sending it out through US embassy pouches

thanks to Nick and weird Oklahoma Julie

because the so-called Irish embassy was run by

one of our very own anti-British fascist manqué,

a total blinkered idiot, so shaming, you didn’t

even want to go to the receptions. But I did


occasionally, so that’s how I first met Hermann Goering.

I’d brought a wee tin whistle and that's what got him going.

I played a few tunes, a jig, a reel, and then a plaintive air

and the fat fucker just went berserk, mouthing off

about Aryan purity and asking me up for the weekend,

so I went off to his place up at Karinhall. My God!

You wouldn’t believe the luxury this fellow lived in,

wall-to-wall paintings and tapestries and sculptures

and the whole bloody house lined in marble. He was

on his best behaviour, slapping me on the back,

bad-mouthing the English, saying the Irish were so pure.


Idiot. The fuck he knows about the Irish.

Anything that happens outside of Germany,

these people simply don't have a clue, I mean,

look at Ribbentrop: he says “Heil Hitler” to the King.

Then he hates England because the English laugh at him.

I laugh at him too. That’s normal. Even the Germans

want to laugh at him but that, of course, is not allowed,

Strengst Verboten! not in a land where an unguarded remark

can send you straight to prison. I'm sorry I bought

the furniture; I really think I ought to leave.


I got back to Berlin and who’s sitting in my room,

there in the chair at the foot of my bed, but Werner?

The hell you doing here, I say, pass over my pajamas!

I have message for you, Bernd, you must send please.

O God, that’s how it started. Neutrality, I’d have to say,

went out the window. The Americans got chucked out

in ’41 after Pearl Harbor, the Irish stayed on. Not many.


By then we knew what side we were on. Oh, but listen,

must tell you! Must tell you about the time I met Herr Hitler

and taught him a few words of Irish, Conas ata tú,

which I hope, you know, he took with him to the grave

along with Eva Braun. He could have turned to her

in their last moments, smiled and said: Conas ata tú?

How are you? How are you? How are you?

She'd have had no reply, she never did, I only met her

the one time and it was Hermann who introduced us,

and after that to some sly sarcastic little dwarf,

a very nasty little piece of work who faded out of the picture

after I’d challenged him to a foot race: a name with “b” or “g”.


Werner was gobsmacked when I left for Sweden

so casually in the winter of ’43. You could still do that then,

even after Stalingrad. The truth hadn’t quite hit them.

I met him after the war in Hamburg, running a bar on the Reeperbahn.

People like Werner never go under, they just bob to the surface

while others are dying in droves all around them. They flourish,

eat well, screw and drink. He looked at me cagily, benevolently,

still thinking I was a corkscrew Jew so I pretended to kiss him,

but his smile went rigid when I whispered in his ear.

Crooks (this is the good thing) don't write books.

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Your poems always prompt me to dig deeper, Brendan. I like how you use "excerpts" from "Granddad's Diaries" to immerse the reader in a captivating story that's peppered with historical snippets.


I went to Wikipedia to read about Göring. Particularly interesting was the part about his "personal qualities" (i.e. his "lifestyle") and this statement:


"Despite his protestations to the contrary at Nuremberg, Göring was anti-Semitic. He occasionally intervened to shield individual Jews from harm, sometimes in exchange for a bribe, sometimes after a request from his wife Emmy or his anti-Nazi brother Albert."


Both this quote and the parts about his lifestyle seem to jive with your poem. Highly entertaining and well done!



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Larsen M. Callirhoe

very enjoyable your vision of your grandpop. i never really got to know any of mine. god's joke on me i guess. i see how my nephews love my dad they call him poppe. i see my dad different knowing how he loves them his grandsons. my dad tells me he might not have much longer being in his 60's. i love my pop and my mom as i get older i see life thru their eyes but not their minds or souls. i pray my nephews get another 20 years with my parents formy nephews sake. how i wept when i was young and saw my great grandmas die.


you see you poored your heart out and now i give you a glimspe into mine. wouldn't it be nice to play the devil's advocate and still be god's right hand man or women (lol). it is funny in life as we get older in life and wiser and older we learn and retain more yet we learn we really no nothing at all. ever wonder where thoughts come from. i do and i know. i like george lucas's anology of where everything comes from. the force. could it life be that simple. this is what i believe. you have love and hate in an eternal epic battle and struggle for life. you know george lucas was healed by angel's and had visions of the utimate love story Star Wars. could he have been gad the seer in a past life. i believe so.


i know i was able. but who would believe me when the dogmas of religions is so vast, unique, and different. (lmao)

Edited by Larsen M. Callirhoe

Larsen M. Callirhoe

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