For The Crew of a Downed U-Boat

Can I rest the heart assured, rewind the world
in scriptured whorls; stride godly on the sea?
see Hitler's corpse hanged lively above dead camps,
pump time's blood judgment, say truth set you free?

That would be nice: to leave the flags to rave
and me in ease. Does it make me afraid
to duck for calm in hate's deranging gale?
To loathe killed men for killers they obeyed?

Oh these are sailors in a submarine,
plunged cruel in the age-cold Atlantic lie
of death told by the living what to mean.
I dare not toll such dead up, cannot cry

but feel the human in us choke me through:
The crests all armies of the holy wore
seem nobles' lies. Can freedom set us true,
Ideas lie shellshocked at the fact of gore

while I salute the sea? Hell no. Let Nazis wear
dishonor buried by three thousand feet
of lightless water. They clamp in buoyant prayer
their fists. Time, beat them back with their time's conceit.

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