In a sunken blanched sky the very worst omen, blessed white doves of concord all flown away

Nothing up there beyond sickly grey clouds, save for in near the distance the dark birds of prey

The candles of enchantment snuffed out across Paris, the day the Jackboot marched into town

Hurry and hide well that old accordion, forget not to keep secret the brides wedding gown

Out in the street a stampede procured of blind panic, they fly the coop, put up the shutters for now

No more cobblestone coffee for the vanquished, one day to regroup, make resistance the vow

In the café of lost inhibitions, where the generals boast of treasures they stole

Pick and choose from a menu of fresh flesh, baked in an oven of burnt book’s charcoal

For their delectation a gifted musician, plucking reluctant chords from harp of heart strings

Be it Berlin, Vienna or Warsaw, under the stark spotlight a caged hostage sings

The gypsy girl undressed fit to die for, made but to dance for the detachments delight

They offer up a gratuitous encore, and then toast with drink their ambiguous birth right

Here in the moment they party, more Schnapps, more champagne on ice

No farewell kiss, no chaperon for the dancer, her fate sealed on the roll of a dice



  1. I have studied the world of the trapped in the second world war, and what a horror story it was, the sense of which is well captured here. Living in constant danger among men who might seem human and mannered in the moment but change into monsters on a whim. A terrible time indeed. I watched a very good film recently the name of which escapes me ( of course ) about a women who worked as a French resistance fighter and spy during that period. She died in 2004, I think, and how she got through the war is a simple miracle I think.

    1. I was in France shopping yesterday and as ever prior to shopping I had to go to a spot where one can squeeze a bit of history out of thin air. Strong coffee outside, and shamefully a cigarette or two (sunny day thankfully) and a bit of people watching always sends me back in time there. My thanks for reading.

      1. Yes, it does me as well, having spent some time in Paris, I think this is one of your most soulful and profound writes, but then I think…no , it was that other one 😀

      2. To have spent sometime in Paris…as have I also…is the finest thing. In the 1920’s particularly, young American’s flocked there. The finest place yet I’ll never fully understand why.

      3. Well yours is the first comment I have read this freezing, frosty morning (so very cold…hate it) so you will understand that your kind words have lifted my spirits somewhat…only problem is I need to venture out later…thermal vest time methinks!

      4. Bundle up, some hot coffee maybe, certainly hope you are wearing snow boots (what the hell is that? dunno). Have a lovely day out there Mike, don’t forget the vest.

      5. Even wore my gloves with electric (via battery) heating…still bloody cold mind at -2 degrees centigrade (late 20’s farenheight I think) and a hellish wind blowing!

      6. So cold that this is the first day for an age I cannot face the ten paces out across the back yard to the small gym we have…am now riddled with guilt. Still onwards and upwards, you are correct Spring is just around the corner

  2. This poem about the horrors of war spoils is very well crafted. I can hardly even fathom such slavery. I am reading a novel right now about the occupation of France in WWII, All the Light We Cannot See, and I must admit that I cannot read about such things for long because it is so upsetting. We have to remember so it will not happen again (and that possibility is very real) but remembering is very painful. I do thank you for this well crafted poem, Paul, as much as it disturbs me to face this reality.

    1. My thanks…for a softer take there is an immaculate fiction The Glass Room by Simon Mawer…read it 5 years ago and it stays with me still. The sad thing is that man on man/woman cruelty in war will never cease…albeit with tongue only slightly in cheek I long for the day when women rule for it is the last chance humanity will get for a bit of compassion

    1. When I contemplate what they did, indeed what ISIS do now I find it difficult to accept what those of knowledge tell me when they say there is now such thing as collective human thought

      1. You are correct, indeed very correct. God it is easy to loathe humanity sometimes I reckon…but then you and your clan, me and mine etc. etc. at least we care and do our bit.

  3. ‘Man’s inhumanity to man

    Makes countless thousands mourn’

    Far from dehumanising women, Mike, these reflections call into question the role men have too long held on the world stage and still do. I concur with your comment in hoping that compassionate women (and men) will, one day, hold the reins. Truly awful, really, that equity is still so far from reality and is evident in problems everywhere – then and now.

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