Prisoners of War

Prisoners of War


II. P.O.W. 

When mortars discharged, I could see all the morsels,

The tendrils that swiftly divided from flesh,

As they were dislodging from bone and from skin,

a fraction of soldiers pinpointed at best.


The floor was a mess, a real meat grinder,

The kraut parts and allies lied scattered about

All were denoted by the shade of their jackets,

Some were like robots, some shattered from doubt


Some were devout and some were so prideful,

And I stood there so stricken by the whole lot of them

My mind could not grasp of such blinding adherence,

Nor then could I grasp how they did not condemn.


Victims of sightless devotion were we,

if the bullets had names, then my soul it should keep,

when talking was dead, if my life was worth less,

then so be it then, at least I could sleep.


That’s how I excused the death of a life,

At least I’d hoped I could trick myself this

I prayed oh so often to remember myself,

The person I was before this abyss.


So, how could the mirror reflect such a lie,

I see just a monster, a jungle-like slayer

I stalked on my prey, ornamented in crosses

Only this time they bettered this killer this player


I questioned it all about being a killer,

if I had the conviction to shoot someone dead?

If my blood was just poisoned enough I could sin,

And eradicate life instead of break bread.


I should be grief-stricken my blood tainted hands,

But a small piece of me did grin from my ears.

Orders or not, there’s a line to be drawn,

One for rebuking and one so austere,


That man could relinquish the evils of war

And ponder the wealth of its vast understanding,

But, with stacked up pills dehisced on the floor,

Survival of the fittest was all but expanding.


The emptiness settled like it’s lived here before.

With life in a flash, like a drunkard carousing

And me on a broken creation conceding,

still breathing but barely, a cell my new housing.


We stood in a line, as they beat us to death

they spoke in a language that vomited hate

they stripped us of rank, and they left us all tattered,

dirty and bleeding as the sweat drops stagnate.


In the deepest recesses of war there was love,

an underling veiled from the mishaps of life.

A fruitless disaster wrapped in pride and of hatred,

advancing the cogwheel built only for strife.


But built as the byword for war-faring men,

Our perception of war is protecting our home.

Defending the morals we’ve grown inured to,

even if they mean to trek the unknown.


But if you have dreamt of the mayhems of war,

Then you should relate to a human being starved

To someone being maimed, injured, and scarred

To someone so tortured, their spirit was jarred.


The punctilious breach of the soul was their plot,

each morning more wretched comportment the text.

You’re left with just nothing, no windows, no airing,

No sustenance spoken, so weak and perplexed.


Plagued by the ruin, the stained mats, and shackles,

The glimmer of sun to burn my fair skin

These feet known too well, that the road to salvation

Is a road far less travelled and paved from within.


What sadistical candors a tyrant could grip,

How easily the will of the people is crushed

The tasteless drab dew, oh the moisture of drink

feigned as an effort to humanity’s brush.


These prisons were not of your grandfather’s work.

The stone work a mess how dreadful it was.

Me, an Italian, took pride in my crafts,

These walls unimpressive but served for their cause.


Take the least of me hostage, mere limbs and a voice.

My lungs sickened deep, so asthmatic and weak

I stared at stones, inert and just mindless,

the walls my attendants for delusions to speak.


The jailors, lethargic, uncaring at best

When they left their assignment, we would tap on the walls,

Whispers and echoes as we made our own tongue,

To pass on in codes, interactions for all


Declarations as such that would mirror an argot

Was all but verboten, so code was our line

The lucid caress of the mind soon diminished,

But through this paradox we often opined.


Yet the pong inside here was less than Ambrosian,

And sickness had fastened itself on the strongest.

It’s been many weeks we’ve been caged up like beasts

By now we were seeing who could last in here the longest.


For now I’m content with a kiss on her image,

A bright blessed emblem resembling hope

Prayers for my son and my daughters, I miss them,

and prayers to the fly-men to keep us on scope.


Yet through my own eyes the visions are rising

The nightmare of war how it waxes so drear

In a shadowy crook, with my brain cells surmising

The long beaten path and how death comes so near.


Today I seek not of the shadowy regions

I have lived very long in its vastness before

Today I seek courage from the withering legions

the courage enough to rise from the floor.


The beat the bare crust unaccepting of sun,

The shade of the vein, of the men who had bled

This place the conclusion of evil untouched

where thousands of creeds would all end up dead


I believed in the sun, though icy and cold,

I believed in my wife, in her love I could feel

I believed in a God though he’s fallen quite silent

I believe the great healer, though time never heals.


In maniacal stirrings I could picture my wife,

On the couch in the den just taking a rest

And me in the kitchen speculating on food

With the war in the past and with children so blessed


Though now I endeavor to just make it out,

To plan my escape with no man left behind

In the most recent days I’ve perfected a shiv

I’ve made from the glass where the window once lined.


If I get a good chance I may not adjourn

The way we’ve been treated I don’t think I’d stop

I hope my humane side would conquer the demons

No promises made as I accomplish this op.


The cold winter hoar, attacked us just perfect,

the lights quickly flickered, the power was out.

An icicle dropped and the main line and severed,

impeccable timing to garner my route.


With the guards in a scurry, I then made my move,

I caught this dumb kraut in the neck with my shiv.

Though tempted to gut him, I stopped myself quickly

and grabbed on the keys so the rest of us live.


A small fighting chance was needed by all,

But without one another we’d all end up dead.

Like a lightning brigade we struck at their weakness

grabbed our equipment then full speed ahead….


…to be continued


Paul Neglia

Proud father of 3. Part time writer of poetry and short stories. I want to paint the world in but a few words.
Paul Neglia

Latest posts by Paul Neglia (see all)


Paul Neglia

Proud father of 3. Part time writer of poetry and short stories. I want to paint the world in but a few words.

7 thoughts on “Prisoners of War

  • January 30, 2018 at 4:02 PM

    Oh my gosh! So tense and emotive. The horrors of war, knowing one may die any minute, then the flood of courage to send one into high drive. The need for freedom is so powerful one will take the risk to kill and run – tis better to die free than die a tortured P.O.W. Excellent work, Paul.

    • January 31, 2018 at 5:15 PM

      Thank you so much Phyllis. I don’t know how they do it. Which is why i give the utmost respect to the armed services men and women.

  • January 30, 2018 at 6:59 PM

    Yes, very emotive and though-provoking Paul, as to the effects of war and carnage, being deprived and mistreated. Being a POW would have been hell and the tale is both poetically powerful and intriguing. Great work my friend.

    • January 31, 2018 at 10:34 PM

      Thank you so much my friend. I couldn’t i.agine all the tortures they were put through, I’m a big guy and being starved would not be fun. Thanks again

  • January 30, 2018 at 7:39 PM

    A sad tale of the worst possible condition a human could find themselves in..lives left so completely at the enemy’s mercy who most likely won’t treat them as have so well penned what goes on in their minds..the verse where they think about family was very touching..thank you so much for sharing wonderfully descriptive this was..

  • January 31, 2018 at 10:36 PM

    Thank you so much again my friend, I am glad to see your thoughts everytime I post something, means alot. Being a POW must have been such an awful trial to suffer. I am so grateful to the armed forces people. Thank again my friend.


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