Tony Beyer


8 March 1941
                               the Luftwaffe
legitimately targeting
                               my future mother-in-law
who was dancing
                               the night away
with all the other
                               bright young things
at the Café de Paris
                               in Piccadilly
incidentally took the life
                               of band-leader
Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson
                               whose head was blasted
from his shoulders
                               during the first set
of the unluckiest
                               gig of his career

seven decades later
                               the clang
of German-made shrapnel
                               in a kidney bowl
after the nonagenarian ingénue
                               had complained about
discomfort in the neck
                               a survivor still
she remembers best
                               her best friend Lou
in a pale ball gown
                               screaming her head off
though there was nothing
                               the matter with her

photographs of the site
                               resemble Algiers in 1960
Beirut since 1972
                               Grozny or Sarajevo
through the 90s
                               Aleppo or Gaza City
Baghdad or Donetsk now
                               the same collapsed
walls and ceilings
                               displaced garments and limbs
rescuers standing around
                               under the lazy drizzle
of fractured mains
                               smoke ghosts in waiting
all the years gone
                               and the years ahead
while we persist in doing
                               these things to each other

Alice in Stalingrad

Horace in his
               Ars Poetica
                               tells us to beware

the incongruous
               assemblage of
                               diverse images

yet here
               in the waking day
                               a horse’s frozen leg

stands as a signpost
               a man’s severed hand
                               hangs aloft

from power lines
               above the factory
                               for automatic pistols

there’s also
               a factory
                               for handcuffs

another for
               police truncheons
                               eminently defensible

while in the
               lifespan since
                               security culture

has globalised
               adding tasers
                               water cannon

water boarding
               for people
                               not to be trusted

but controlled
               like white rabbits
                               sprawled in snow

mimicking the stiff
                               of the invader

now and again
               you get fed up
                               with landscape

too green up close
               too distantly blue
                               too easily replicated

shades of Chernobyl
               wavering at the edge
                               of eyesight

the different
               coloured moon
                               after Fukushima

(once you wore blue
               now you are blue
                               and glow in the dark)

the dryish Czech pilsner
               my older brother
                               swears by

claiming the radioactive
                               preserve him

Tony Beyer is writing and teaching again in Taranaki, NZ.
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