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Bleeding Before Rome -2

Yet at this very moment the cathedral was crumbling down upon the cries of foresaken refugees, the monastery's walls wobbling from war's wreckage, and as the black bursts billowed into sun drenched brutality with the bodies of abandoned country folk crushed in the rubble of new era ruins Krout 88 flak opened up from the west rear of Monte Cassino pumpin plumes of deathshead shrapnel into the tailsections of spent squadrons, a split B-17 began to plummet like a broken star tummbling wildly in a graveyard sky letting all concerned know that fate follows all fire no matter how near or far, as the chalky smoke wafted away into winter's wind Monastery Hill remained unconquered as before, although the demolition would become the ideal den for Germany's elite 1st Parachute Division paratroopers whom had a special predilection for arduous combat, a passion for extreme warfare, they were Field Marshal Kesselring's infantry ace and these unrivaled Falschirmjagers while supporting General Vietingghoff's 10th Army would successfully defend this linchpin terrain for five months of continuous conflict against the weight of Allied military abundance, on three successive nights the British and Indians gallantly crept and accosted fortified positions on Point 593 which blocked the hind ridge path to the shattered sanctuary only to be repulsed by rainshowers of stick grenades and 8cm mortar fire splintering the solemn stones into the naked eyes of desperate soldiers whose mules couldn't get enough gear and ammo to the shredded souls on midnight mountaintops, the Rapido River was an obstacle of classic obstinance a thick and swift bloodstream of battle hardened beasts that for weeks had been replenished by the sacrifice of bridge builders and rafts of infantry, Texas tough guys from the U.S. 34th and 36th regiments mustered their valliant manhood in the murderous rapids on multiple occasions, but bullets can see better in the dark and the frothing river was eager for flesh, the flatland in front of the river had been expertly mined and flooded by German engineer battalions, Teutonic thoroughness was on full display throughout the Italian Peninsula, from Salerno to Naples to the riverfront of Cassino the Allies lost 16,000 men in seven sickening weeks of strategic withdrawl skirmishes and as the Polish, British, and American armor units were being destroyed in the deep mud of the impassable Rapido Valley by innovative Panther turret pillboxes firing across the river from a mile away with profiles lower than shrubs camouflaged with botanical artistry the Anzio Beachhead northwest of Monte Cassino was being surrounded by General Von Mackensen's 14th Army, the piggish diesel snorts of Panzers pressing in day by day with Panzergrenadiers hogtying the hapless General Luccas and his luckless 30,000 Grunts who'd been stuck for a month feeling like a sand castle under siege, and everyday the K-5 leviathen cannon spewed it's 562 pound shell from 50 miles away on railway, on March 15th, 1944 the term critical mass was creating new meaning, stalemate could swing either way to checkmate, U.S. heavy bombers were ordered in, more than 500 B-17's would drop 1,500 tons of high explosive distopia on Cassino Town, an unprecedented pulverization in concert with ground forces, Long Tom cannons and M-7 Priest howitzers delivered the cake's final layer of frosting and as the Allied army advanced aerodynamicaly with it's Bridgelayers and M4A1 Shermans crossing that abominable river they saw orchards and gardens denuded and deformed, stout trees fractured and charred, the town's heavy white and beige buildings fragmented like prehistoric eggshells, it was as if the vision of Bosch combined with the brush of Van Gogh, the sapper crews felt lucky and protected, diffusing landmines, Schues, and clearing calm debris, suddenly, remarkably, German Paratroopers from the 1st and 3rd Divisions, with their unique nutshell helmets were surfacing, buzzsawing the bleak ruins from fixed positions the rapid thudder thump of their MG-42 machine guns throwing sparks, shards and shudders into paniced faces, this was the fire of ghosts, but they were very alive in their green splinter camo smocks, replacing smoldering gun barrels with professional alacrity scrambling from redout to redout via tunnel systems prepared months prior crossing the streets from underneath like battle rats, Screaming Meme rocket tubes encased in the mountain sides were bringing terrifying blazes to G.I. brains, Panzer H lV's began to blast forth at the bridges and olive green Allied armor unbelievably, from within fortified buildings, Sow Head Stugs erupted on the cluttered roadways from outlying ambush positions, the full onslaught was on now everybody in, from both sides of Armageddon, Semper Fi showdown from sunset to sunrise survival school was in full session, this battle wasn't about gold, oil or borders the Stars and Stripes and Swastika were second thoughts in the screams and strains of soldiers souls it was about your buddy's bones, that girl's face the last place that you felt safe, you had to end the evil that you believed brought down the best of you - J.A.B. The battle for the town of Cassino, it's surrounding mountain peaks, and the Liri Valley which included Highway 6 leading straight to Rome is the greatest rugged terrain battle in modern warfare, and arguably the best ever for such a theater of operations. It commenced on January 17th, and was finished May 18th, 1944. The Allied forces suffered 55,000 casualties, the Germans, 22,000. Had the Allies not prevailed at Cassino, it is likely that the Units at the Anzio Beachhead would have been eliminated, Rome would not have been rescued anytime soon, and the June 6th Normandy invasion would not have happened. This poem is dedicated to the Battle Of Monte Cassino...Justin A. Bordner

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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Date: 9/2/2017 3:29:00 PM
"fate follows all fire no matter how near or far..."Wow Justin...this was an absolutely beautiful, brutally descriptive're so in tuned with history, it's almost mystical, psychic! Amazing, thought-provoking last lines too..completely breathtaking. Always, Laura
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Justin Bordner
Date: 9/6/2017 12:57:00 PM
This poem took me to and through a serious psychic edge during the creative process. I knew, after studying my firsy book about the battle of Monte Cassino in 2007, that I'd one day honor it with a historically perfect, and heartfelt composition. I love the challenge of History inspired poetry, to honor the subject, and the craft of poetry requires absolute passion and dedication Poetess. Your thoughts on my poetry are invaluable to me Laura...J.A.B.