The Horrors of War

Staying with the theme of war and the what it cost in terms of life, I recently wrote what turned out to be a powerful poem about the horrors of war.  The inspiration came from research I've been doing into my second novel, Red Snow.  I wanted to find out about the true human cost of the second world war, and the atrocities committed against ordinary civilians by Allies and Axis powers.  Unfortunately women became true victims to men. 

Arbeit Macht Frei prompted me to add voice to victims, not just women, but to the persecuted Jews of Auschwitz.  The title is taken from the now famous sign that greeted the prisoners upon entry to Auschwitz, and translates as "Work Will Make You Free."  I wanted to capture the irony of those words against the absolution of the inevitable.

Arbeit Macht Frei

Hopeless voices
Entangled branches
Deep wine coloured leaves
Cold breath dancing
In frozen streams.
Slung back rifles, relaxed
And the satisfied stench
Of smiles etched cold
In ribbons of smoke
Stark against the haze.
Hoisted skirts, akimbo legs
Semen stains to soil the skin
Bare breasts like trophies
Chilled to the touch
And wretched in death.
Eyes wide open
But blood still warm
Captured by the camera
Dignity stolen
By the men of war.
Star of David sewn on the arm
But the smile is gone
Clouds fill with spite
The fires burn bright
Day and night.
Their ghostly faces
Shine; frozen in fright
Stilled, fooled hearts
Peace in death
At a price.

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