Or Is The ‘Great War Poem’ Played Out?
On the map, now,
if you can find it,
south of Ypres,
but on maps from, or of,
the time (spring 1916) and
circumstance (see title above),
it’s St. Eloi.
The one I’ve googled and printed for novel research
is, thankfully, not—as the truism goes—
If it were, then its seven numbered, dotted circles
—representing seven steaming, mucky craters
caused by seven hellish underground explosions,
set and detonated by teams of men
trained for the task,
in patiently built tunnels below sprawling trenchfuls
of less trained men,
men with pipes and toothaches and sweethearts,
sheltering in wet clay,
thrust into uniforms and thrown at
a demon nation—
might rise from the page
and rend my limbs in their roar,
or entomb me in their collapsing rows
of fragile ditches,
the way the terrain
did those men
Today, on the satellite map, one of the craters
is still there, a groomed pond now,
behind a row of pleasant houses
with tidy yards.
Did you spot the ambiguity, two stanzas up,
about which men I meant by ‘men with pipes’ and so on?
Does it matter which side blew up which?
Transient Global Amnesia
Waves of casual agoraphobia lie low below the bog
of our collective breath as we teeter, noctambulant, toward
the peachy pie-cuffs of the premature,
the iron-fed rats of this time for sure,
hang the defenceless on the cross of la la la la you can’t see me,
the maskless a nagging mnemonic of vigilance
as we wax hopeful over uptake and waste water
while lower still an ugly stirring
points to some brittle tantrum, some blonde-faced
Will To Power brutalism, some slink of the pliable spine, breathless to
be the bearer of the cynical broadside, rectitude
deducted to swell the swill
for short-term points, to toast the fraying
intelligibility of his insect voice.