Herbert Nehrlich

Rookie (04 October 1943 / Germany)

The Last Days Of Ww Ii - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich

It was an early bird,
this straggler of the sun,
a ray of gold with millions
of teensie diamonds,
suspended like a milky way
and warming the old pane
and then her wrinkled
ancient but so thoughtful face.

She had been sitting there
huddled in well-worn comfort
and safety of the Biedermeier,
with buttons of authentic pearl
cords woven by young hands
in times long gone but sorely missed.

Her teeth were smiling at the morning
from well within the mustard glass
their own sweet shelter, on the sill
and Grandma drifted off again,
a pleasant snore now echoed from
the yellowed wallpaper into the room.

She'd had this strange affliction,
since the day when Russian tanks
and men with felt and dirty nails,
and worn-out boots and frightning guns
had commandeered so many things
including women, and teenage girls.

They always came at Dawn, just like
the Indians she had read about
they took no scalps but stole your soul
and there was vodka in the streets
a breeze of it, it lingered everywhere
as if it were a disinfectant which could
clean all the sins and make things right
for beast and man, and for their God.

Grandpa and youngest son were busy,
they had been sent into the Lab to make
more booze to kill the pain of war and peace
for all the soldiers, officers had now decided
that drunkenness would be the order of the day.
So, from the lowly beet, and old potatoes
they were distilling potent medicine for those
who had not been out of their clothes
since leaving Leningrad in late September.

Grandma had been assured a privileged
and almost royal, privilege, yet had no trust
in what the 'Russkis' pledged at all,
she sat, well-huddled inside her chair
surrounded by the fumes of fermentation,
her Sauerkraut was almost done, another day
or two, she would air out the crock downstairs
behind the barn away from rays of sun.

She worried, with her stoic face and hint of
a very trace of Kaiser Wilhelm's petit moustache,
but things turned out alright until, in May of forty-five
the Russkis were chased out, by fire bombs,
of phosphorus and Yellow Kalium, a strange melange
left over from the Wehrmacht's stocks and dropped
in quiet desperation upon the innocent and on the dead.

A different breed rolled into town that day in May,
trailed by a horde of screaming boys and girls,
few words exchanged, but many smiles and tears,
sidewalks soon littered with the silver paper
of chocolate bars, and cigarettes for all old men.

Grandma was sitting still upstairs, inside her chair,
a brand new batch of Sauerkraut fermenting,
she'd put her mirrors out again in both directions,
and nodded off, warmed by the sun's first rays,
Her teeth were smiling quietly inside the glass
and pleasant snores suspended, drifting toward hope.


Comments about The Last Days Of Ww Ii by Herbert Nehrlich

  • (11/14/2005 12:55:00 PM)


    what is this obsession about old wars when we are killing so many now (Report) Reply

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  • (11/13/2005 12:25:00 PM)


    Another masterpiece, H! (Report) Reply

  • (11/13/2005 7:40:00 AM)


    This is indeed a very moving account of the last days of the war, well-told and poignant. You should get this published so that more people can read this account.

    Raynette
    (Report) Reply

  • (11/13/2005 5:29:00 AM)


    A good grass-roots poem that cuts to the heart of what it was like at the end of WWII. My father was involved in the 'mopping-up' operations and this poem is very much like the sort of stories he tells. Very real, very well written. (Report) Reply

  • (11/13/2005 4:59:00 AM)


    A rare glimpse into the tragedy of civilian casualties of war Herbert. You describe the old lady so vividly, her strength almost bursts from the page, and those jaded soldiers left me feeling pity for them. I too thank you for sharing this tenderly composed record with us. 10 from peace loving Tai (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, November 13, 2005



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