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Midwestern POWs' Poetry

written by a group of American flyers held as POWs in Nazi Germany;

contributed by Lester Schrenk, one of the those POWs who now lives at Edina, Minnesota.


God’s Minute

I have only just a minute, only 60 seconds in it,

forced upon me, can’t refuse it, didn’t seek it,

didn’t choose, but it’s up to me to use it,

give account if I abuse it, suffer if I lose it.

Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.


Over Nite Pass

I knocked on the door of angels

in the faint and starry light.

“M’am, a POW would like to have

A furlough over nite.”


“But you had a pass last evening,”

the lovely Captain said,

“and the night before, and the night before.

Don’t you like your wooden bed?”


“It isn’t the quarters, Captain.”

And I saw the stars in her eyes

blink and gently soften.

“You’re homesick, lad,” she sighed.


She took a fluff of cloud bank

and scribbled beautifully.

“Here is your pass, now travel fast,

and be back for reveille.”


So I boarded the train of slumber

and homeward I’d be gone,

but I’d be back, by the same track,

when the Jerry broke the dawn.



Black barbs of wire that fence me, and scanning towers,

only the least of me is hostage – mere limbs and voice

which were imprisoned in one pattern or another by war.

I was a veteran prisoner before you; these feet know well

the slavery of patterned-roads close followed.

The voice is trained to answer low in meekness

the overseeing tones of tyrant custom.

I am used to the black bread of dogma

and the tasteless water of convention, so you see,

black barbs and scanning towers, you do not chain me.

No more than I am used to being chained.

I’ve learned well the articles of servitude

to which man must submit his flesh,

learned them so well indeed that they are rote

and no longer interfere with that of me than is before the chain


forever reaching ------------  forever free.

A Burst of Flak

You’re firing in the air so blue;

the flack comes up so straight and true;

it hits your plane, it drives you back,

and the cause of it all, a burst of flak.


The fighters come in with bloody thirst

to give you a taste of 20 mm. burst;

it knocks your buddies on their back

and the cause of it all, a burst of flak.


You grab your chute and head for the door

‘cause your plane’s wounded, disabled and sore;

you hit the silk, and all goes black,

and the cause of it all, a burst of flak.


You fall through the air and all is quiet,

your ship goes down, that faithful old kite;

then you hit the ground with resounding whack,

and the cause of it all was a burst of flak.


The farmers come over the hill

with blood in their eyes and ready to kill;

they lift you up and give you a crack,

and the cause of it all, a burst of flak.


They gather your crew and march you thru’ town,

so the people can watch you with a frown;

then they put you in jail, a dirty old shock,

and the cause of it all, a burst of flak.


Dulag Luft is the name of the next old hole

where they torture your mind, to see what you know;

but the Yanks refuse with wit and tact,

and the cause of it all, a burst of flak.


Then you go to an encircled old prison camp

and your only friend is a Red Cross stamp;

you sleep on boards which hurt your back,

and the cause of it all, a burst of flak.


We sit and think of our girls so true,

and of our boys still flying in the blue;

of pillows and sheets, that make up a sack,

and where we’ll never hear that burst of flak.


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