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Poetry Magnum Opus

The Hidden Meaning of the Second World War (slightly R)


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Poor grandmama, she passed away

at the age of ninety-something,

leaving behind a house full of memories

upon which the family shortly descended

like circling crows, squabbling over

the paintings, her gewgaws, the furniture.


There was a darkly glowing Vermeer,

two Rembrandts, some Hepplewhite consoles,

and two whorls of canvas that were not altogether

but almost Turner. Also a Constable.

I came down in a taxi from the station.


Sad that the old lady’s gone, said the driver,

She were a good ‘un, I well remember her

from the First Do: Faith and Freedom.

And were you in that War yourself, I innocently asked,

and he growled and spat, said he'd been thrown

into capitalist wars throughout his fuckin life.


A touch aggrieved, I held back on a large tip,

thinking of my two dead uncles from the first show,

but when I stepped out of that car I had no idea, let me tell you,

of all that stood before me, hunched over in my tailored uniform,

owlishly peering: I was no soldier, no real bayonet-thrusting


Godblast you crazy person. The Regular Army, in my view,

were gentlemen, not warriors, encompassing a collection

of grumbling commuters plucked from cosy civilian jobs, resigned

to typing the shit out of the enemy, in triplicate. Would you

kindly wait until you are called? Silence, please, and some decorum.


The tanks rolled over the charred steppes of Asia,

the bodies burned in Treblinka and Maidenek,

and all the while motorcycle messengers farted

and backfired into Bletchley Park, where we typed

and typed and, in a British way, quietly won the war.

Edited by dedalus

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

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