John Allan Wyeth Poems >>

Fever, and crowds—and light that cuts your eyes—

Men waiting in a long slow-shuffling line

with silent private faces, white and bleak.

Long rows of lumpy stretchers on the floor.

My helmet drops—a head jerks up and cries

wide-eyed and settles in a quivering whine.

The air is rank with touching human reek.

A troop of Germans clatters through the door.

They cross our line and something in me dies.

Sullen, detached, obtuse—men into swine—

and hurt unhappy things that walk apart.

Their rancid bodies trail a languid streak

so curious that hate breaks down before

the dull and cruel laughter in my heart.