The Vanishing Point.....

Written Things

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The Purity of Light is Poor.

Vague sunlight through dirty windows.

Pale light and dark shadows

On Grey White walls.


The heat and the cold are one in the same,

Inseparable from any other misery

Or indignity randomly chosen

To be endured or not

With the dim realization, or one suddenly sharp,

That it will change when it wants to,

Not when you want it to.


Vacant stares, the slam of dominos, the threats,

Sudden violence, idle boasting, fear

Always the fear

Becomes the mantra, chanted endlessly,

Sonorous, Gregorian despondence.


The Grey and the White meld into one another

A sea of pale mud

Often dirty, rarely cleansing

And then not for long.


Waking up in the middle of the night

Or in the middle of the day

But waking up often

Go take a leak, get some water

Anything to not stare at the blankness above

Or the moronic avarice on each side.


The gates and doors are locked

Leaving even the largest spaces confining

As if there were spaces large,

And not merely less small.


Even the sky is cramped

Hemmed in roofline and razor wire

And the wind has no strength, only weird power

Not straight and steady

But tricky and coming from behind.


If only some release or some respite were at hand

Other than the self sacrifice of self abuse

In endless repetition until it loses all sense

Of purpose, every taste of memory gone, just

Fleeting glimpses that don’t stick, don’t last

And serve to remind you of nothing at all.

There will be a day when it is over, by God or man

One returning or one arriving to unlock this door.

Or maybe it will burn to the ground, and me with it.

Leaving only blackened steel and stone

The Last Testament to my insignificance.





Mostly what I remember is the dust. It would cake around the goggles and find its way inside them, rivulets of sweat and dust finding their way inside my mouth, and caking everywhere. Have you ever unbuttoned your trousers to piss and found your balls caked with dust and oily grit?


I remember other things, too. Hinzie and Steiner making up obscene lyrics to “Horst Wessel” and Steiner getting mad and smashing an earthenware bottle of vodka against the inside of the turret in drunken rage and loading the main gun. I dropped down in the hatch cupola and kicked him in the head, the hobnails drawing blood, and he lay their forgotten and nobody unloaded the cannon. He woke up and pulled the firing latch and as the gun was full depressed it shot a shell into a sty and gouted a platoon of drunken grenadiers with mud and pig shit. Every one seemed to always be drunk or fighting. Or dead.


I still see, as if it were yesterday, or today, and maybe it was, or is. The Stuka dropping in on our own fuel lorry and blowing it and a few 38’s left from Czechoslovakia burning. We rolled on, as the ‘34’s were still coming, and I can remember Paul wanting me to traverse the turret so he could watch out of the gunners hole, crying as he watched the bodies burn as they tried to crawl out the wreck.


I can still feel the bones of the Russians under the treads. How can one feel individual bones under 60 tonnes of steel? The 88 rocks the mantlet still in the memory of my body, filling the hull with smoke, Paulie clutching at the MG as the rounds bounced off the front armor with a deafening clang and echo, crying each time one hit and laughing each time a hole was punched through one of their T-34’s or K types. Dead Russians, dead as they were forced out of their fighting holes by the Commissars, shouting “Oooray” as they came and fell beneath our guns, yet some getting through and throwing mines at our tanks, one throwing over ours as he fell beneath Paulie’s trigger.



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