Schlachthof Fünf — A Place of Carnage in Anybody’s Language

(photo: from Wikipedia)

(photo: from Wikipedia)

I seriously wonder if my grandfather
bombed Kurt Vonnegut in Dresden
as he sat hunkered in his eponymous
slaughterhouse numbered no.5
a prisoner of war and still not yet a writer
it’s at best an academic question, I grant you
because although my father’s father flew
as a bomb aimer with the RAF Pathfinders
his job on the eve of Valentine’s Day 1945
was to lay down flares over key targets
so as to guide those who followed to the
precise points they were to offload their
incendiary payloads onto a civilian population
thus the firestorm was orchestrated and
25,000 killed, too many bodies to bury
and a hell on Earth achieved of which I never
— unlike in Vonnegut’s celebrated novel —
heard my grandfather once tell.

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Thanks are due to Dina, a fellow blogger here at WordPress, who has been helping me track the themes of flight and Kurt Vonnegut’s writing in some of my more recent poems. Her excellent writing and blog can be found here. Enjoy!

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About Lorem Ipsum

Just some guy trying to figure out where the "on" switch is hid on the remote control—ah, forget it. Because, you know what, I'm also the kinda guy who always likes the book waaay more than the movie! View all posts by Lorem Ipsum

5 responses to “Schlachthof Fünf — A Place of Carnage in Anybody’s Language

  • dhonour

    Well done! It’s not your average poet who can combine Vonnegut and flight and reality into one poem, and an excellent one at that. I read this yesterday and then wanted to come back and read again before I commented. I wanted to make sure I left with the same feeling both times, which is a sense of mourning really. For an era and a city and a time and place, but more than anything, for your grandfather. One night must have almost erased all that came before and branded all that came after. So many ideals wrapped in barbed wire, I think. Really nice. And thank you for the high compliment. I am thrilled that by reading and enjoying your poems you feel I’ve somehow helped you along a theme. I am just happy you’ve introduced me to the joys of poetry again. I had forgotten it for a long time. Thank you, truly.

    • Lorem Ipsum

      Yes, I think I’ve always held a sense of mourning for my grandfather’s loss of innocence due to his war service. So you are right on that score. And if I have contributed to your renewed joy in poetry my efforts haven’t been entirely wasted on my blog. As you can well appreciate, I’m sure, it’s just so encouraging to know others are regularly reading and interacting with your work! Thanks, for doing both, so astutely.

  • safia

    All modern wars are wars against civilians – ‘hell on Earth achieved’ indeed. Poignant last line – they silently carried their burden to the grave in most cases, I’m sure.

    • Lorem Ipsum

      Yours is a very sobering comment, and one which is difficult to refute. That we accept civilian casualties as being the inevitable outcome of modern warfare is truly distressing. The concept of “war heroes” becomes very mixed in such a light, as it did in my grandfather’s case.

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