You could never even imagine "three million." It is a small
knot of people who will be familiar to you, will have given to
you "as the world gives;" and tell me, did you know
You can be fascinated with trees, like "a savage staring at a
ship;" murderers, when their histories are researched, are shown to have drunk
Pepsi and to have felt better each green Spring, just as we
folks do who read of their arraignments in the papers.
And you can tell those who can never be familiar to you about
what you've only dreamed, and hope it explodes in that far Them, takes flight with them,
As all simpler folk do, themselves, when talking at the level of God. What if
you stitched wings, flew, chewed a hole in your chimeric sky
and found nothing behind the Show at all? But no. Only at ground-zero, where no one
could hope to have heard the whir of your Will coming, only Out There,
By the thousands or millions, can the things you craft to send
rise high enough to fall among the people
I don't know what they are, Sir. Scott first saw them taking
shape late in the Winter; you have to forgive me, because he was
mainly afroth at another warm year's chance at a Camberwell
Beauty—dashed daft things that men seize upon
to get them through a war! He's a butterfly fanatic,
Sir—that's what I'm saying. In the midst
of some rubbish about wings, he said something'd
been set up over 'long the Pas-de-Calais,
something he feared was connected with
flying, but of a different sort than
Pull off your best dress, luv, and let us further the race. I don't
know how many drunks there are in wheelchairs, but I can tell
you that there are hundreds who tonight are on their feet. I
have a brother who saw his best friend blown to rags
by a German plane that he clocked at over 500 miles
per hour. Is the Fuehrer now manipulating our minds by radio?
Nothing, nothing, nothing is that fast, safe for bats out
of Hell. And Jimmy dead. I'd feel better if
the killer had known his name,
Or vice versa.
They're not going to cite this place on maps, later.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, I can't imagine a place the size of Berlin, nor its millions,
but we have our orders, and we shall erase them. That's good—consider Britain
a cartographic error we cannot directly see. If this thing works, and works well, we
shall build one sturdy enough to cross the Atlantic. I cannot
sleep at night, v. Braun, I cannot bear the stench of
what drifts here to us from across the Baltic. We should tell stories
to make it smell better. Me? I started
working in small in watches, and now my greatest work
is a bird with a belly full of alcohol and
air. Those ones they made further in on the
mainland, the ones that scream
when they fall—at least the limeys
hear them coming! At least they
hear a sound, and know
they are about to die. This?
It stills too much of Mercy. Still,
Only a small knot gone, though; a city block, a group familiar. Nothing
wholesale. I'd like to now who, and their stories, and how
they prayed to Christ. I could win a promotion storying such detail.
At dusk, and the Moon is rising earlier this part of the year, we shall issue
the first order to begin cartage to Calais. Alcohol and oxygen,
beer and skittles, alcohol and air. Sounds like the British
all over, eh, doesn't it, blitzed by alcohol and air? The Fuehrer would
laugh, would deign to applaud, would be amused.
III Love and Air
We cannot have bombed out all of the synthetic fuel along the Rhine.
Hitler blundered with the Me262, but he has realised his folly now
and the frigging things'll be blowing our Spitfires into showers of
chaff. And yet, somehow, I have dreams of them, in rows on tarmac,
ready, ready . . . but nothing in their guts. And have we yet
finished off those "mysterious erections" along the
Pas-de-Calais? I dread knowing; at least
in keeping the Messerschmitts on their fields,
At least here we know the name and nature of the monster we
And what if whatever it is they plan to launch does not require petrol
or kerosene? Can one ever burn air itself; can they fuel
them on chewed sky?
Even we have as yet been unable to tamp Faith into guns.
We have failed, Sir. They trucked something in last night, the Underground
said by radio. But we have become adept at hymns,
at our own rockets and 70-Megacycle radar, and with prayers to
Christ we shall continue to pot the buzz-bombs down. "Not as
the world gives"—He shall give us strength in our millions,
through the familiarity of His story, His hand on our wheels,
and, from the stout grain He giveth, a good belt now and then—
And a good woman's love.
And air. The Germans have been unable to cut off our supply of air.
IV Vergeltungswaffe Zwo
Good God, her face is blown off!
and did anyone hear or see what fell? What has happened
to my mind? How many shall fall? Do the makers
of such monsters have human names? How could anyone
familiar enough to someone else to have been
christened with a name send something so
ghastly to other souls from afar? Call it just!? For who?
And has anyone ever believed what they have never seen or
known? No, no , never, it's terrible. This is an end for
all minds. They send things to explode among people
they'll never know...
Minister, after all has been tolled we count over 30,000 hurt by the
sky. I put it this way because that is the way
it seems to the people—that they were killed by air, by the sky
itself. They never see or hear anything. God in
Heaven!—these insane machines fall at 3,000
miles per hour! They blast a city block to ruin,
and then the sound of their arrival heels up like a dog
and grins—are poets going to be able
to live with this, with us, with themselves, after
this war? If they shall, they they
shall not write of us, then they
shall choose something else—
Something that cannot call their names. Because that's something
I've learned in this war, Minister—if you hate anyone,
or any group of people, you have above all having to realize
that they are like you; and if you must kill them,
for any reason at all, you hate, above all, having known
V A Berlin Poem of *d*lf H*tl*r
The only rule of the house
Is that there are no visible firearms at the tables of our
feasts. We dine on stories
of how our conquered pray to their God even as their blessed sky falls
and we clean our teeth free of the stain
of a million far lives implicit in such supplies
of imported food.
As if with the searing sanguine thread of Radio I have dreamt as being there
to pulse a race's watches astep to my Time,
I close the ring of my Will
and they themselves step; even as I sleep; and even as I sleep;
I have seen them Love me and Hate me
from afar—call my name, yes,
even as I sleep.
I love what flies, and falls, and I love
what people believe
And how these mix to give me my Power
And I hate their names, but am amused.
In a book I might write, I shall say, "I had an unusual
experience! . . ." and my readers would laugh. What is unusual for
me? What do I, a god to them, consider funny, or spiritual?—oh,
A funny thing happened to me on my way to Berlin . . .
Put on your finest face, my love, and let us get down to the
business of furthering the race. Hundreds tonight could be drunk with
you, instead of mere alcohol or Spring air—here is a pen.
Wasps make paper, and live in it. They live in it, and we write
on it, or clean. And what we write, we write of things
that are of no account—farmers, for instance, are free to blame the
Rain, or the Weather, primarily for the reason that these
grand institutions cannot be reached for comment. We write blather.
And what we write, we send off to be bound and packaged by
the hundreds and thousands, with a careless finality shared only by the
designers of bombs. And then the presses whir with the gnaw of a Need,
or, more horribly,
I have been told, for instance, by someone I've never seen, that plants can receive love
from the stars. Boom. I have been told to seek something
Happened and be devoted to it, and to call such Devotion
Innocence. As you wish. You tell me, fellow bomber, that such
a quest cleanses you of the City and all the dreariness
that Man entails, of the God that is inferred
to keep it all rolling..?
But wait, I do not know you—and never will, as neither shall your each
and every lover—so why do you so tell me? And anyway the truth is
that "us," this Race—we—have Happened as purely as has any tree.
And I am devoted to Us as phenomenon. So am I innocent, then, through
such devotion? No. Not if I spoil friends' dinners, not if I
exhibit myself in this ritual in front of the children, not if I burst
You are a Writer, say: At home, the familiar knot reminds you that
they neither love, are amused, nor seek you for your limelit
madness, because you are home-grown and, to them, you have,
after all, refrained from setting up your gantries
to shoot the works of your Work into their midst;
and the turkey is served, fattened and slaughtered
by someone else,
but in this society we are permitted to wash
our own hands of this, and eat clean death;
And some child draws names or faces in the steam on the windows,
has her hand slapped: "Now I'll have to wash the
whole window tomorrow;"
The banter is of ice-hockey
and trees down—a few—on the road through the
Here, you make your sweet love to low ritual
and are unnamed, and Needed
They don't talk much, really, of "how goes it" with your writing, because
such talk is, to them, tantamount to quizzing a furloughed soldier
as to how many lives he has had to take during
No guns at the table, Honey.
"Had to do it, Mom. Had to."
Ssh, dear. The children. Not here.
Oh, it was, and always will be, a Job. Everything is done with
detached distaste, and, if you can manage a smile or a
joke as your pen-hand trembles, you call it Joy. Your work you
might often connect with God, and so dance on; all systems
are go, and
A circle is complete; and all systems, all rings, must be closed,
especially those of blather, and of Will.
Once, during the evening, the urge to blast a mind surfaces,
alien as a U-boat in Boston harbor, and you think to
thrust home a conversational point based directly on
research new to your literary senses,
But the thought dies on the mute tip of your tongue, and
not in someone else's rage at your insistence to Have Been Right,
Because these are the familiar people, the people, the only real people
who can ever do this, the people you need to need have you
tell them nothing, their only rule of the house.
"Tell me, do you call it power?" But
They never ask, they just love;
They are a knot
out of an unimaginable million. Someone has to be
the in-laws of a killer, say; some have to be his or her
children, some his friends,
and one will even give you children, one day.
If you want to keep them, any of them, you must button up.
You must say nothing of your launchers in the Pas-de-Calais,
and nothing of you there, twistedly gleeful and calling it Joy, or, worse,
you must button up,
And tell them nothing.
They would tell you, anyway, and in no uncertain terms, that there
is nothing to tell.
"Don't make love to your Ritual," they'd say, "slab-dab crazy in
front of the children." Black sheep were never in style.
But there can be no mistake: as were those of ours and the
Germans, your warheads are, and must be, tamped, honed,
timed and armed perfectly
To detonate far away, in hearts you have need to affect but haven't the ghost of a chance
to know—in knots of people, people who share in beer and love and air
and have real names, who
you'll never see but have somehow allowed for,
in the marketplaces, in millionfolds you cannot
imagine but cannily expect to go buying,
In these folks you had to kill on the job:
All to keep the ring of your Will closed,
All in this blather, this auction of visions,
this string of feasts 'neath light imported of dead ferns,
All in this war.
Tell me; you must tell me: if you enjoy the prospects,
if you are amused.
|Copyright © 1978, 2005 by David Newkirk. All rights reserved.|