Flora of battlefields, discarded junk of casualties strews the ground like trampled weeds. I spread a dead paratrooper's camouflaged jacket to cover both his stiff body and the homelier shape sprawled underfoot ... The Spandau fire from close range! A sharp, bone-snapping shock splinters the smoke-clogged air: we run, while I formulate the usual lies, the righteous words to ease guilt and sanctify the ritual death of the man whose abandoned body has been an expendable shield, a viable husk in the ruthless cycle of the omnipotent organism. We run, And awkwardly, gun at the ready, I try to wipe from my shivery hands The salutary, scab-like clots Of the necessary victim's blood.
Editor's note: Les Cleveland fought with the New Zealand Division at Monte Cassino, the bloodiest battle of the Italian campaign. Cassino barred the route to Rome. After the war, Cleveland became a university lecturer.
- The Voice of War -- Michael Joseph Ltd (1995)