Escape To Rome

And there it was,
the symbol,
all things he valued
in this rotten world.

The very thought of it
could dry his throat
and bring a tear or two
to eyes that had,
since they could see
been smothered
by its very presence.

He had to leave the city,
the Russkies could be heard
across the river Spree,
a Hansa car was ready
and had been loaded
with rags and medicines
both for the poor and wounded.

With care and trepidation
he crossed the Ku-damm
into Charlottenburg,
squeezed through the space
just barely big enough
that had been left
between the school
and the still smoking wreckage
of the tram, one-hundred-four.

Accelerating inconspicuously,
he felt the wind,
the promise of fresh snow
from Prussian fields.
He smelled the blood,
mixed in with acrid smoke.

And to distract his mind
he turned the radio knob
and heard the speech,
his Fuehrer's urgent voice
that strangely reassured.
Yes, victory would still
at this late hour
belong to Germany.

He wondered whether anyone,
his wife and the two boys
were safe, if they had even reached
the sanctity of Switzerland.
You could not trust
nor guarantee a thing
here, in the Fatherland
since the entire world
had trained its weapons
on his land and people.

Oh, yes, it was the Bolsheviks,
those stinking Russkies
with their primitive
and so subhuman features.
Who only trusted Vodka
and their carnal needs.

If things went well he would,
by nightfall, reach the border
and show his letter, stamped
by hand of Vatican, with seal
of what they call the Holy See,
it proved his presence was required
by the Pope himself.

He sighed, then cleared his throat
as if this might remove debris
from that long stretch
of road one-twenty-five,
course SSWest, he thought it funny,
this symbol of his group.

The smell of petrol hung,
like drapes of anaesthetic
above his frozen ears.
He'd be alright with four full Jerry cans,
all stamped with 'US ARMY',
and duly documented,
for one, en route to Rome
with stop in neutral territory.

A Russian road patrol.......
his heart now hammered,
sweat trickled down his collar
and painful twinges squeezed his crotch.
'Shtoy, Gospodeen, zeig documenti! '
Things were in order, though
and this, his voyage would,
now he was certain, lead to Rome.

He gripped the wheel to hide
the fear now from himself,
and started the long climb
that leaves the range of Brandenburg.
So many miles to go,
how many bloody Russkies?
The car was groaning now,
the differential whine,
and clunking of some kind,
in second gear due to the rise.

All systems go, full steam,
the brutish power of the Horch,
eight cylinders of German ingenuity.
To calm his nerves and fretting heart
a cigarette would do just fine,
a Scandinavian brand,
restricted to the party heads,
much treasured by SS
as well as cardinals in Rome.

He smiled just then,
a happy day it was.
And from the pocket of his vest
he plucked his favourite toy
a ZIPPO lighter from America,
memento of a mean interrogation
down in the cellar of the Spandau Jail.

Two Russkis, Ivan and Vasili
had stopped their olive jeep
down in the valley, to have a smoke.
And, as they leaned against the Jerry cans,
strapped to the back, marked CCP,
they saw a fireball, and seconds later
a thunder hurried off the mountain top.

And the explosion was
much bigger than
a cannon would produce.
Some bits and shards now landed
down on the road.
Outstanding was the fact that
a dozen silver pieces
rained from the smoke-filled skies.
They came to rest next to the sign
that read ZUR KIRCHE.
Someone who loved graffiti
had painted upon the sign
a handsome swastika.

by Herbert Nehrlich

Comments (7)

Aly, they would have locked you up for your spelling! If you don't like the swastika that makes two of us then. Best H
Hey, it's interesting to say the least. I mean, I know that the Thrid Reich was in charge, and, don't get me wrong I'm Part German, but I'm learning about the way they treated people and I'm just not sure I would agree with them. They dumped on Jews and Free Masons. I come from a long line of FM's, I would have been sent to a gehtto or Concenntration Camp. I just don't like the swatzica.
What an adventure! It's amazing the things that people have to go through in this world. You are so good at poems like this with such rich stories. This was great Herbert! Sincerely, Mary
This certainly made me sit up and wonder! A great poem H. What was it that inspired you to write it? Was it a book that you have just read or something like that? A very powerful piece. And it kept my interest right to the end. Gyp's
Good poem, Herbert. It flows nicely and the ending is powerful. It isn't always easy to write this kind of poem that is dramatic and emotional as well. Raynette
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