Four Dead Germans
Four dead Germans in a trench.
Four dead Germans covered in flies.
Four dead Germans in a book
about the Somme, where 19,000
Tommies die in two hours.
Ypres is worse for those at Ypres.
A twenty-two-second shard of celluloid
in which three laughing Tommies
wear German helmets near a trench
full of sandbags & water. Blowflies
on meat in September. Savor tinned beef
underground. Rum in a shaving mug.
Dead boys, lips & noses eaten by maggots
soon to be flies through which nothing
human can be seen. Nicht mehr Schnapps.
In 1970, 2,000 Yanks gyrate
to “The Battle of the Somme”
in Baltimore. The orchestra pit reeks.
The guitar solo kills. Outside, cars sail
like schooners. Beards, rage & blood
in this quad & that. Afterward, hot
fish sticks dumped on newspaper,
potato salad, jug wine. The moon
has no man in it. It’s all talc, rocks & sun.
In the encyclopedia, Black Jack Pershing
squints like Hemingway. Hemingway looks
worried in the hospital. Fitzgerald, too.
Yeats & Pound are nowhere to be found.
On second thought, nothing more human
than flies on four dead Germans has ever been seen.
John Repp’s most recent collection is Fat Jersey Blues, winner of the 2013 Akron Poetry Prize from the University of Akron Press.