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Poem: "Ghost of a Chance" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Ghost of a Chance"
This poem came out of the April 2, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "poltergeist" square in my card for the [community profile] darkfantasybingo fest. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] finch and [personal profile] thesilentpoet.


"Ghost of a Chance"


When the bombs began to fall on Britain,
the Good Neighbors watched
and, sometimes, opened their hills
as makeshift bomb shelters.
"Hush," they said, "tell no one
that we are still here."
And nary a child breathed word of it.

When Operation Sea Lion began,
the selkies rose up and sank half the ships
before they could even reach the beaches
while dandelion fairies cut the lines
and left the paratroopers plummeting to their deaths.

It was the poltergeists
who really made the difference, though.
They hated the Germans --
every lost soul brought down
by bomb or bullet or torpedo
who had come home to roost
now lay in wait for the jack-booted strangers
to come marching down the wrong street.

Every street was the wrong street.

The poltergeists threw cobblestones
and bricks and bits of glass.
They poured blood down walls
and the backs of soldiers' necks.
They slammed hands in doors
and drawers and anything else that moved.
They rattled windows and roofs,
knocked and pounded and wailed
until men went mad for want of sleep.

The poltergeists gave their countryfolk
a ghost of a chance to escape,
then turned on the enemy soldiers
without mercy.

"Wir geben," the soldiers cried.
"Wir werden nach Hause gehen!"

"No," said the ghosts,
"you won't."

* * *

Notes:

In our timeline, Operation Sea Lion never happened, but the plans were made.

Wir geben, -- We give up.

Wir werden nach Hause gehen! -- We will go home!

 


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Comments
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: April 5th, 2013 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Colin Forbes wrote an excellent novella on what he thought would have happened if Operation Sealion had been activated straight after Dunkirk. I can't recall the name or the anthology of short stories set in WWII of his it's in the back of. (Telling you that my father has the book doesn't help.)

Apparently at the time there were 12 amphibious landing craft in the entire Reich...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2013 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

You can see why it was never implemented. They needed far more control than they ever got. I just thought it would be entertaining to let the Nazis beach and then drop them into a wringer.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: April 5th, 2013 08:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Colin Forbes made an excellent lost of their problems: getting hold of a port that was rigged to be blown sky-high by the defenders; water for a heavily horse-drawn army; petrol stations so rare they were marked on road maps and tanks run on petrol; unexpected acts by individuals (an elderly, one-armed man, deemed to be an non-combatant, who got close enough to shoot von Rundstedt with his WWI service pistol); and the long term effects of using Rhine river barges to get the German force across the Channel.

I did like the imagery of fishing boats and yachts called into service with machine guns bolted to their decks to get in among the barges once the Royal Navy had raced south from Scapa Flow to break the German naval blockade. The British didn't have it all their own way, but the German losses were enormous.

As you can tell, I liked the story.
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: April 5th, 2013 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)

I like! Really positively creepy. I love the last stanza.

(Also, I'm not sure what it says about my Yiddish, that I can still get the context of German when written.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2013 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>I like! Really positively creepy. I love the last stanza.<<

Yay! That's what I was aiming for.

>>(Also, I'm not sure what it says about my Yiddish, that I can still get the context of German when written.)<<

Yeah, I can hack out a fair bit of meaning from English being a Germanic language.
From: siliconshaman Date: April 5th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
*grins*

I really do like this one... and as an aside, the reason there were so few amphibious assault craft on the German side is because SOE had rather made them a priority.

There is a story among the pagan community, I cannot verify if it's true or not, that there were plans afoot to raise all manner of supernatural nastiness in event of an invasion. I can however verify as absolutely true that SOE rather carefully leaked that information to the Germans, without details of course...

Given documentary evidence on the involvement of a large number of the upper echelons in Hitler's Division 13 and other such paranormal activities, as well as the little 'fellowship' cult he had going, you have to wonder if that didn't give them pause for thought as well. Britain has stories of some spectacularly gruesome supernatural things, and they all react badly to interlopers.
siege From: siege Date: April 5th, 2013 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
A "heavily horse-borne" army? Put leucrotta among them. That alone would terrorize an entire division and ruin at least one supply convoy; and since officers rode horses, there go a few of them. Add in ban sidhe to the north; weeping maidens along the rivers; will-o'the-wisps, boggarts, and bogeys across the moors, bogs, and lowlands; redcaps and etterkin among the hills and highlands; the nastiness of brownies disrespected in the towns and woods (boots and carriages falling apart and food vanishing)...

Yeah. That's barely even beginning to get started.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2013 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

That's pretty much where my mind went too. Well, there and "A Pict Song."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2013 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>There is a story among the pagan community, I cannot verify if it's true or not, that there were plans afoot to raise all manner of supernatural nastiness in event of an invasion. I can however verify as absolutely true that SOE rather carefully leaked that information to the Germans, without details of course... <<

I was riffing on that too!
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: April 7th, 2013 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Love this.
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