One of these poems is about the Holocaust, and one about my early memories of the war.
The Holocaust is something I have been interested and saddened by, since I was 12yrs old. I remember buying a book from a junk shop; it cost me threepence then. I took it home and read it in bed. Stupidly I left it on my bedside cabinet, and the next day when I came home from school it had disappeared. Asking my mother where it had gone – as she was the only one at home all day – she said she didn’t know what I was talking about. Not satisfied with this and later that evening, I asked my parents about the Holocaust and why it had happened. My mother said, “the war is over and we don’t want to talk about it, and I don’t want to hear another word about the book you supposedly bought and wasted your money on”. If you don’t spend your pocket money on sensible things, you won’t get any”. My father sat sheepishly saying nothing.
As you can imagine I was far from happy, but knew better than to argue. So during an open question lesson at the grammar school I attended, I put the same question to my form master. His reply was. “If you can’t ask sensible questions boy, don’t ask any. The other boys laughed of course. So it was up to me to research this sad, terrible part of our world history. And I have done so for the past 60yrs.
Here is a pit, I am naked.
The summer sun warms me
And plays hide and seek
With leaves on distant trees.
I feel almost sublime.
There is a presence here.
No-not them, they obey orders
And the Fuhrer’s madness.
Was that a shot? I am falling,
I experience weight.
Should I feel light In death?
No I am heavy
among copious excreta and blood.
The smell is wretched
This next poem is about early memories of the blitz.
We were hauled out of bed
Our feet hardly touching
The cold linoleum.
Sirens wailed, a fist thudded
The door, a voice cried out
Are you all alright Mrs
Yes aunty shouted back
We are going under the table.
Be quick then the voice retorted.
We were herded down the narrow
Stairs, my two cousins and me.
Jenny was snivelling, she was tired.
Mum and aunty pushed us
under the dining table.
They arranged blankets on top
And chairs, seats down to secure
Any other time it would be a cosy den
Now night imprisoned us.
We were cold and frightened.
Then aunty heard them.
A deep throated humming,
like giant bees with sore throats.
They were close now. Mum held me,
Aunty began to sing, mum joined in
The noise came in waves sweeping
Over us like a tide. I could feel mum
trembling as she hugged me closer.
Now we were all singing at the top of our
‘Daisy Daisy’. ‘Pack up your troubles’.
The noise above was a cacophony
Of clawing, reverberating sounds
The air thick with fear and unwashed
Then! The noise began to fade a little
And a little and a little bit more.
Auntie spoke to mum in the pitch black.
‘They missed us but someone will get it.
God help them’.
Silently we listened to the bombers
Fly away, until a calm silence enveloped
Our tiny cottage. Broken at last by the
Sirens sounding the all clear.