a summer Sunday in Stalingrad.
The streets alive,
grids buzz with the drone
of forty thousand doomed ants.
The busy buzz of bumble bees
among the blooms on florist’s stalls
Strollers walk the promenade
along Tsaritsa’s marble wall.
A pregnant cloud
across the face of the square’s clock -tower,
the hour chimes three in sweet refrain.
The klaxon sounds again.
Another air raid warning,
people turn like flocking birds to cover.
No fright on sun bright cheeks,
no rushed panic,
a polite and obedient clearing,
The sound of heavy guns stuns,
the tak –tak of anti-aircraft fire.
The realisation that this is real,
then people flee
like lowing cattle driven before a thorn prod.
The first waves fell.
noise and heat and flying debris,
as building folded row on row,
like standing corn cut to winnow.
The raw scent of viscera and death,
the screams and cries
of wounded spent.
The panic of wide eyed mothers
searching out lost children,
The discoveries and gutted deep screams.
The haunted visage of London and Berlin
The sun shrouded in pink false dawn
of grit and smoke and empty husks.
The streets smoulder, chaos of boulders and rubble.
and still the fire fell,
hell descending on the square
where fathers haggled over cost of meat
and vegetables just hours before.
All is blood and smeared gore,
the raw red of war.
Night fall hid the gashes
and the deep torn scars,
the city lashed by Stuka stars,
fists of falling fire
and still the alarms sounded.
“This is not a drill” they said
but only the dead ears
of forty thousand listened.