Monday in the courtyard of the barracks

A poem by Alfred Lichtenstein

The heat sticks closely to the gun and to the hand.
It pricks the eyes. Nothing remained forgotten.
The troops stepped, half drunk, into the fire.
The non-coms stand rigidly in front.
The glaring earth is a dead carousel.
Nothing stirs. No one drops down. No streaked sky flies.
Only rarely a hoarse barking tears apart the blue sow
Which lies on the stone barracks.
Now the army leaves me alone.
Who still pays attention to me. They got used
To my strange civilian eyes long ago.
On maneuvers I am half dreaming,
And as we march I compose poems.

But war comes. There was peace too long.
No more good times. Trumpets screech
Deep into your heart. And all the nights are burning.
You freeze in tents. You're hot. You're hungry.
You drown. Explode. Bleed to death. Fields rattle noisily.
Church towers fall. Flames in the distance.
Winds twitch. Large cities crash.
On the horizon cannons thunder.
Around the hill tops a white vapor rises,
And grenades burst at your head.

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