John Allan Wyeth

Hospital

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Fever, and crowds--and light that cuts your eyes--

Men waiting in a long slow-shuffling line

with silent private faces, white and bleak.

Long rows of lumpy stretchers on the floor.

My helmet drops--a head jerks up and cries

wide-eyed and settles in a quivering whine.

The air is rank with touching human reek.

A troop of Germans clatters through the door.

They cross our line and something in me dies.

Sullen, detached, obtuse--men into swine--

and hurt unhappy things that walk apart.

Their rancid bodies trail a languid streak

so curious that hate breaks down before

the dull and cruel laughter in my heart.

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John Allan Wyeth