KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Poems: 133 words
103 words
178 words

Liberation and Aftermath: A Triptych

by David Cobb

Boxtel, July 1945

Well, yes, it sticks to me, like a burr,
This Netherlandish name, because that day
Of crawl in dusty heat our troop train
Halted in Boxtel, nothing to surprise,
For through an endless landscape of debris
No route or schedule seemed to guide our way.

One of us eased the strap and pulled
The window down, perhaps to ascertain
Why from the swarm assembled there 
With hands outstretched, there rose no buzz 
Nor any move to climb aboard the train.

I chose one head, a ripened sheaf of corn,
And motioned to the boy, some nine years old,
How in the butty taken from my lips
There was still meat. His hand was cold
As with mute dignity he laid in mine
Two clogs of his own making, painted gold.



Goslar-im-Harz, September 1945

This is how peace returns: a man plays drums,
Beating out three-fours with a firm right hand,
But for less certain taps, well up his sleeve,
A stick fixed tightly to a stump of arm.	 

This is how luxury returns: the Kursaal 
Turns up a notch or two the ambient heat.
The Frauen, having let their “best” out, 
Greet Kálmán and Lehár with tapping feet,
Sip ersatz coffee brewed from acorns,
Nibble at biscuits with obscure content. 

Is this how fellowship returns? A stray  
Khaki soldier, latterly at war,
Learns operetta songs and breaks
Small pieces from a Cadbury’s bar.



Ashkelon, November 1947

Unwavering, over the skyline they came,
all hands to the bilge pails, single-masted
cockle boats from Brindisi and some Old Tubs,
unanimously renamed “Exodus,”
floundering with wet charts; like sick sperm whales
that had missed their way. But this was not so. 
As we observed from behind sand dunes  
they beached, and the floating slums 
spewed onto the barbed wired shore 
their lading of gaunt, anxious people, 
wading with all their wealth upon their heads. 

For some few moments a salt-sea spray 
effused from their lips; in a surge of orange blossom 
they settled loads and stamped their feet 
on land where their Bible told them Samson
was mighty in his moment of destruction.

But, on the strict command, we came forward, 
light from the west reflecting on our steel,
and for they had little running in their legs, 
we herded them directly back onto the hulks, 
turned their forbidden prows towards the sunset;
and back at base we reported seeing
not one mast burst open with a rose.

Wednesday’s cricket match could go ahead.

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