January 28th, 2015




Cold killed but summer's heat was not her friend.
Flies bit her naked scalp. She itched. The sweat
dried. Salt sting. She would scratch it. But not yet
Rehearsed her old routines through to the end

But silently. She sorted teeth and hair
by colour and by length, filling and crown.
Hers red before they shaved it, grew back brown
was shaved again.She bled. Blunt clippers tear.

She stifled in that room. The air was close
thunder some miles away. Artillery
would sound like that. But she would not agree
to hope. At night she'd let her broken toes

remember dancing. Summer was so short.
All pleasures flee. Are murdered when they're caught.



Burnt stubble's smoke was different. And dead leaves.
No putrid residue upon your skin
No ash snow that you mourn as if your kin
Bonfires of autumn. For which no one grieves

The year was dying. He had seen the grain
rot on the rotting stalks. A hungry year.
Soldiers eat then civilians. He knew fear
accounts of famine reckoned in his brain

he could not speak but knew. Saw every face
grow hungry hollow toothless. Smell the fire
as body eats itself. Beyond the wire
gold apples boxed. Set carefully in place.

So many names now absent when they call.
Starved, stacked, then burned. Or left just as they fall.



Winter is mathematics. Fingers tell
days without food, days when there's two inch ice
on puddles, when they do the roll-call twice,
Shoot those who faint. You count those dead as well.

Work out the distance of those saviour guns
in days and hours. Surely shrink to few.
Some will survive perhaps. Perhaps it's you.
Notice which guards have left. If some guard runs

in ice and fog, He's gone. Perhaps he'll freeze
perhaps be shot. Left naked in the snow.
As you may well be, probably you know.
And count the death of every cough or sneeze.

Winter's economist that savage lord
counts kills the lazy sick or merely bored.