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HELL ©

Tom Barker
POW Number 12244
Stalag 404
Grossbeeren
Germany 1942

Ere the tide has neaped tonight,
I leave my hearth, put out the light.
But sleep evades my troubled brain,
I glimpse the rain on my window pane.

The droplets splat with dainty tap,
then meander down too quick to trap.
Like bitter tears so cold they burn,
while through the years the memories churn.

As I grow old the blood runs cold,
shadows flee on the wall so bold.
Flailing like a demented tree,
by shrieking wind on a spree.

Then sudden alarm as on the stair,
I see a man who isn’t there.
Standing as if from stone he’s made,
then into the wall he’ll slowly fade.

Bedroom cold and dark the night,
I lay me down and shake with fright
But on the morrow I will not tell,
of my visit to the gates of Hell.

Troubled slumber is not rest,
dreams and nightmare become a pest.
And bravo to the man, who cared,
went through Hell and ne’er despaired.

Gaunt hungry men who paid the price,
watery soup, a grain of rice.
And often have I had heard it said,
“All the lucky ones are dead!”

Bodies hang up on the wire,
the Guards just shoot, they never tire.
Tomorrow as to work we plod,
we plead aloud “Please end it, God!”

But the next day follows, as it must,
and work on, with so small a crust.
And God is deaf, or fast asleep,
as to our bunks in the dark we creep.

Some yet in the burning desert sleep,
others slumber in the oceans deep.
Yet we have retained but one desire,
to bid adieu to this heathen wire.

I feel it now when the wind is high,
I see it now when the clouds scud by.
My heart goes out to those at war,
and those in Hell for evermore.


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