Literary Yard

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‘The Cratered Road to Malancourt’ and other poems by Keith Moul

By: Keith Moul

The Cratered Road to Malancourt:
Doughboys Face the Meuse-Argonne

Our general plows the muddy clay, then coughs:
“Gentlemen, I approve the corps, division and
regimental battle plans, without amendment.”

Craters before Malancourt lie equaled beyond,
a formation of deadly mathematical precedent.

Green officers and men engage each landscape
not so much as luxuries of lush green space, but
blasted, burned lairs to fears and secreted enemies.

Friendly artillery cracks a redoubt, sunders a wall,
exposes tender viscera, the array of enemy troops,
or piles bodies to sift like powder per the mission.

When “heavies” form craters, soldiers vaporize,
unable to sidestep the rapid concert, demolition
little described in The Science of Artillery texts.

“Where be the heart of the matter? How dwells
the angel of mercy in such screams from hell?
What point reveals life not lost but liquefied?”


Today at the Pier

Much circus-like frenzy fills the street, pier
and ferry parking holding area, alive, vivid.

Tourists watch the captain position his ship,
with engines in reverse, at the dock, roped,
and aligned for aft debarkation from Victoria.

I wanted eyes to flame out at the maneuver,
as mine so often have: I time the event daily.
Skills of this kind, at this level, beg attention.
Yet all who watched the big ship enter the bay
have moved on, from thirty or more to but one.

Would the namesake, the plump Coho Salmon,
bob in shallows and escape public intrusion?
Fathers with notoriously coy daughters, desert
the pier, not caring to share a pleasure with me.


Tourists’ Pleasure

Competing birds began hungry, now become belligerent
as the they circle over my head. Hearing ageless dispute
sets my imagination a-wing, to seek any grubs or seeds,
or the garbage of tourists pleasure-seeking on the beach.

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