La Viree de Galerne, October 1793
There were at least thirty thousand of us armed,
not to mention the hangers on coming
along for the craic, a gaggle of everything
you could think of, lads only half grown
and beardless, banging on incessantly how
they'd screw the Reds and fuck Robespierre.
Kids too and tarts hitching their skirts
when we wanted it. We'd fought through a dozen
towns and killing makes you want cunt.
And the old men there to make the soup,
ladling it into cupped hands as we marched.
Bread we stole and wrung hens necks outside
peasant farms, plucking on the move.
We crossed a river, the Loire someone said,
through Normandy and, up ahead, Granville.
The Brits should have been there according to
Monsieur Henri but, shit, they weren't.
We'd been suckered and then we were surrounded.
We beat back, forcing the pace, the fucking cold
killing half of us. The rest were hunted down.
The civvies were butchered in thousands, kids, women
and the old ladling men mown down, great pools
of blood, brown as their soup, crusting the earth.
Christ, it wasn't human and the end came
finally at Savenay. We came out
of the woods at last, screaming our surrender.
The frost melted as they shot fifteen thousand.
For two days the guns were never silent.
Mercy is not a revolutionary sentiment.