TJ (17th June 1958 / England)

Gabardine And Greatcoat

Gabardine neatly folded and draped,
Public school-style,
Over my left forearm;
Cap in hand,
Parents to either side of me,
I was shown around the school
In which I was about to spend
More years than I’d been alive,
Let alone years I could remember.
An eternity yawned and fell away from my ‘11-Plus’ feet:
A sheer ‘O’ and ‘A’ levelled hangman’s drop,
Vertigo rearing up, clawing at my fragile confidence
Drawing a cold-sweat noose tight about my neck
While I waited for the trapdoor
To snap.
Greatcoat hanging heavier over his right arm
Than the Steppes snows
That soon would be his shroud and stone,
He was halfway into the pit of inhumanity
Dug and now filled by friends and family,
Positioned so that the murderous momentum
Of a single lead Luger slug
Would topple him and lay him out
Atop all he had ever loved.
“One for the album! ”
And some sin-sick Sonderkommando
Snapped his shutter
Before the trigger
Was squeezed by another
And he fell, left-handed,
Into Heaven from Hell.

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Comments (1)

This is a very powerful poem Tony - I love the way you juxtapose the two images - so far apart in time and context and yet so hauntingly similar - in order to share your narrative. And it is the directness of the piece that I find so moving. You show the reader, rather than telling him/her what to feel. A skill, many on this site might do well to emulate. Congratulations. love, Allie ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥