Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wasteland Wandering

I walked under sun from El Alamein to Benghazi
Upon paper-dry chips and hard cubic faces
Caught in the barrens no man survives
But camels and bedouins and novelists

November is come past these sixty seven years
Of long-forgotten ribcages and burnt up boots
Failed crumbling attacks and Devil's gardens
All I could think of were the trees of Palermo

Yes, you left me to die without letter or love
What less should I expect from Fata Morgana?
Qattara swallowed me up then spat me out whole
That salty leviathan of vast dessication

As I sat and thought of your just-past birthday
Wondering if you would forgive all my bloodshed
The stars rose and the world turned frigid
With a shift in the phases came the British offensive

Right before me a shell took off his leg below the knee
Yet behold, unscathed I have no such crippling excuse
Why I never returned was due less to Allied assault
More instead to the cowardice bred from absolute failure

Ten years later in a sunset darkened cafe in Messina
I saw you beside that American from the broad boulevard
Who had deftly avoided Kesselring and captured your heart
Orders were clear to make a new retreat back to Cyrenaica

For all the twenty five pounders that thumped the horizon
Enduring crushing commands I strove so hard to trump
The inexorable advance of time in its long, drawn-out turns
I never truly suffered more or wished to die

Until the moment I watched you kiss him

About this poem

This poem was inspired by recently watching the movie El Alamein and by the West End Games boardgame I worked on decades ago, Desert Steel. It is informed through the knowledge gained by research on the North African and Mediterranean campaigns via innumerable books, magazines, movies and simulation games. A tip of the cap and bow is also due to T.S. Eliot and the Arthurian authors of the Grail legends. And, of course and ultimately, it was inspired by the historical deeds of hundreds of thousands of individuals who suffered through the Second World War conflicts in North Africa and Sicily.

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment