Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the category “World War II”

Pterodactyl (5)

Pterodactyl (5)
I rubbed my knee
before lighting up a cigarette.

Taking a long drag,
I let it out,
rat a tat tat
in accompaniment with
the rain
that was coming down
like shrapnel on the roof.

Pterodactyl (4)

Pterodactyl (4)
Clarence
was waiting,
Private Clarence Winters,
drafted like me.

Although we had grown up
in different worlds,
he on the Baltimore streets,
me on a small farm,
neither of us
knew of anyone
with money to speak of,
and we shared a love of
jazz.

But I cannot
go to him,
I have to flee.

Pterodactyl (3c)

Pterodactyl (3c)
He did not listen
as much as speak
and because my mind
has been twirling more
than a bit
I doubt I
picked up much of what he said
but that I face up
and get myself ready.

Pterodactyl (3b)

Pterodactyl (3b)
He had come
to console
because he thought
my time had come.

But I had not
yet given up hope
because Max
knew.

 

 

Pterodactyl (3a)

Pterodactyl (3a)
He didn’t know
the man
who entered his cell
from Adam.

But his clerical collar
identified
why he had come.

Pterodactyl (2c)

Pterodactyl (2c)
It rose and glided off
its enormous wings stretching out,
its beating rhythm
sounding
Max’s fleeing steps.

When he finally arrived
at the old ranch house,
he entered
the screen door
slamming shut.

His grandmother
looking up from the kitchen table
with its plate of sugar cookies
and the drink that she was drinking
with weary eyes
listened.

Pterodactyl (2b)

Pterodactyl (2b)
One day
in his ninth year
as the clouds swirled
above
at a leisurely pace,
he saw something
he could not believe.

 

Pterodactyl (2a)

Pterodactyl (2a)
Walking home along the river
after Bible class
where he’d heard the story
of a righteous God
who had passed judgment
with the Great Waters,
Max would often see
what at first resembled teetering overturned carts
but were in fact
slot machines thrown in by the mob.

Pterodactyl (1g)

Pterodactyl (1g)
I’ve thought it
over and over again:
Max is my only hope.

The clouds are rolling in
like a pair of thrown dice.

Pterodactyl (1f)

Pterodactyl (1f)
I know
there’s no way
to change what happened.

The man had told us
he had crates of whiskey for sale;
alcohol was hard to get
and we were dying for a taste.

 

 

Pterodactyl (1e)

Pterodactyl (1e)
A tall
pasty-white guard
approaches
his syllables stretch out
as if they were sentences.

“A visitor is coming later,
Winters.”

“Is it Max?

“No name,” he said
looking slightly befuddled
before shuffling off
a heavy rifle resting on
his bony shoulder.

Pterodactyl (1d)

Pterodactyl (1d)
I’m monitored hourly,
but my imprisonment
is not particularly harsh.

Despite the fencing,
it would not have been difficult to escape
but I would never dare
the jungle surrounding all.

Granby Street

Granby Street

I walk down Granby Street
all these years later.

I was taken
to see a world
I’d never known
of rolling clouds
over mountain peaks,
of crashing waves and
insufferable heat.

I never knew
if I’d return
or be buried
at sea.

 

All along the
dock
we
victoriously
disembarked,
moving about
in riotous dance,
duffel bags
slung easily
over shoulders.

I bought the
best suit
I could afford
and a pair of shoes
to impress
a  lady.

Poem by Tom Simard
Sketches by John Spiers

To find out more about John’s other creative work, please visit 1 Graphic 50 Words.

Sketch 2: Some Wide Pastoral Spread

I love trains. There is nothing quite like sitting leisurely admiring the landscape rolling out before one’s eyes, talking with fellow passengers, or just being engrossed in a book. I’ve had some good reads over the years including The Glass Bead Game and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I once had a timetable of train routes throughout the world. I’d lie in bed and calculate my journeys, the longest being the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok.

While I never did make it to Russia, after finishing my B.A. I did get a three-month Eurail pass and spent the summer of 1984 travelling across Europe. It was and will probably remain the longest trip of my life.

Not having much in the way of money, I stayed in cheap hotels or hostels or slept on the train. For food, I usually got bread from a baker’s (is there any better than a French baguette?) and some cheese and lunch meat, and voilà! I found wine in shops incredibly affordable.

Although it was the day before MP3 players, I did have a mini-recorder with songs. Here is one of the ones I brought along:

I got as far west as Sligo where I visited relatives, and as far east as Vienna, which did not, I should say, exactly greet me with open arms. I got as far north as Bergen, and would love to have spent more time in Scandinavia, but the prices drove me southward to Rome.

I fell in love with Italy. I remember the sun, which has always seemed to me the most logical heavenly body to worship, the wonderful gelato, and the noise of Rome.

The poem describes the Italian landscape I saw.  One can read here about the pastoral. Speaking of which, why not listen to Beethoven’s symphony:

William Carlos Williams was the first American poet to really speak to me.  It was likely through him that I became aware of Ezra Pound, who was a friend of his for more than half a century. Pound’s poetry never did much for me. To some, he is known as a champion of Modernism.  Others, myself included, remember him as a raving anti-Semite/fascist, who after spending WWII in Italy broadcasting propaganda over the airways was arrested for treason:

Ezra_Pound_1945_May_26_mug_shot

Security_cages_where_Ezra_Pound_was_held,_Pisa,_Italy,_1945

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