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Bernard Gutteridge

Man into a Churchyard

He comes unknown and heard and stands there
Breathes there hardly and hands grip
Flesh and walking stick. Skips over mounds
To land flat footed in a bowl of roses.

Flicks at the crazy gravestones
Spitting loud desires wood crosses for himself:
Heaves them up with laughter to hang them,
Dangling on the atheist's fig tree.

Handsprings through the open door,
Signs with a swastika on the visitors' book
And goes through the shut iron gate
With a pansy in his buttonhole.

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Sniper

Moves in the rocks with inching fingers.
We among the feathery banana trees
Imagine for him his aim: the steel helmet
And English face filling the backsight's V.
Again as it was last time, that spurting noise,
Thud, and the writhing figure in long grass.
until we match precision with precision:
We move ten men to one and have him then.

I saw the sniper in the afternoon. The rifle
Lay there beside him neatly like his shooting,
The grass twined all about his cap.
He had killed neatly but we had set
Ten men about him to write death in jags
Cutting and spoiling on his face and broken body.

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