Robert Desnos; Beach Walk

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Le Poete et Resistant Francais-Robert Desnos

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As the West once again sees force being used to secure territory in the Ukraine I was reflecting on our visit to Terezin (Czech Republic, October 2013-which was both ghetto and Concentration Camp. I came across the memorial above to Robert. His story and poetry were fascinating e.g. his links to Hemingway and the Surrealists. The military fort where the Nazis incarcerated prisoners and executed is as it was those short decades ago. I wrote the piece below inspired by this brave and inspirational man. He died of typhoid after the camp was liberated. Below is the story from Wikipedia regarding his use of both his mind and body for others’ needs.

Susan Griffin relates a story that exemplifies Desnos’ surrealist spirit:[5]

One day Desnos and others were taken away from their barracks. The prisoners rode on the back of a flatbed truck; they knew the truck was going to the gas chamber; no one spoke. Soon they arrived and the guards ordered them off the truck. When they began to move toward the gas chamber, suddenly Desnos jumped out of line and grabbed the hand of the woman in front of him. He was animated and he began to read her palm. The forecast was good: a long life, many grandchildren, abundant joy. A person nearby offered his palm to Desnos. Here, too, Desnos foresaw a long life filled with happiness and success. The other prisoners came to life, eagerly thrusting their palms toward Desnos and, in each case, he foresaw long and joyous lives.

The guards became visibly disoriented. Minutes before they were on a routine mission the outcome of which seemed inevitable, but now they became tentative in their movements. Desnos was so effective in creating a new reality that the guards were unable to go through with the executions. They ordered the prisoners back onto the truck and took them back to the barracks. Desnos never was executed. Through the power of imagination, he saved his own life and the lives of others.

 Beach Walk

Maelstrom of beach debris

The lions erupt from the sea

And the sharks leave none alive

We can make this come alive, we can make it through

There will be no deaths this time, they will not pick our bones

Let us feel the sand between our toes

Let us walk free, let us walk on.

A McNeil

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