Bunker Hill

an excerpt from the forthcoming Legends of Liberty, Vol. 2


The Eve of Battle

The midnight moon. The month of June. A neck
Of land. A hill of sand. A group of shadows
With wheelbarrows—squeaking. “Quiet, heck!”
—“No speaking—whisper!” Shovels out, they burrowed
Ditches and raised up walls of earth and rail
And trees and stones and shoes and—really? Yessir.
You own, you use. Near dawn, near done, one flailed
To others from his dugout (an old dresser):
“Hey—over there—a taller hill!” Uh-oh.
They’d fortified Breed’s Hill. “This good or bad?” Dunno.

Meanwhile, the Sons of Liberty were huddled.
A room. In gloom. A single candle flame.
The British would attack soon. Thoughts, Sons? Muddled.
One Libertarian freed speech: “Let’s name
A major general to lead us—focus
Our army.” Army? “Band, I mean. Er—force
Of farmers, traders. Fighters, all!” (Of locusts.)
But who was qualified to head this farce?
All heads turned towards the Prez of their committee—
Joseph Warren! Why him, though? Those eyes. (So pretty.)

After the meeting, Warren took to bed.
These sleepless nights of planning piled to stack
A migraine on his cares. His Bible spread
To Second Chronicles: “Josiah took
Away abominations…that pertained
To the children…” (drooping) “…Israel, and…” Closing
The book, eyes fluttered out the windowpane,
Thoughts on his little ones… and her. Imposing
A pensive scalpel on the pane to bless
The glass, he traced two precious letters: M and S.


Ballad for the Boston Soldier

The minuteman. The moment that gun clicks,
Feel dread. You can be sure it won’t neglect you.
The minuteman. In less than sixty ticks,
You’re dead. Your fancy training won’t protect you.
The minuteman. The button on your coat
Is his bullseye. Your running shoes are bootless.
The minuteman. His bullet will demote
You on the fly. Uprooting him is fruitless.
Go charge and bayonet him—if you can.
Or yield, my noble captain. Hail the minuteman!

He came from planting crops, smothered in soil;
He came from candle shops, dangling wicks;
He came from whaling ships, covered in oil;
He came from filling kilns, hardened like bricks.
He came with fowling pieces (good for birds);
He came with shotguns (cut for riding coaches);
He came with dueling pistols (good for turds);
He came with rifles (used on what he poaches).
But could assorted brawny arms suppress,
Like Samson, fluted columns piping their Brown Bess?


Bunker Hill

The afternoon of June the Seventeenth,
Lord William Howe was pacing Boston’s beach
Before his soldiers: “I’ll not stand beneath
You on the hill—nor ask you march to breach
A place I would not march myself.” HUZZAH!
Five thousand redcoats shouted, voices storming.
“We’ll go seize Bunker Hill, then drive out—” —“Ah,
Sir? The provincials took Breed’s Hill this morning.”
—“Breed’s Hill?” —“It’s lower.” —“Then they’ll tumble harder!”
Men loaded onto thirty boats and crossed the harbor.

Burgoyne, advancing to the hill, performed
A plea: “To the Deluded Multitude:
Attend the voice of reason, knaves. Be warned—
You cannot win! What serves this family feud?
It profits neither side.” (His hands were soaring.)
“Of king and countrymen, you’ve run afoul.
Submit, submit, submit!” (His arms, imploring.)
“…And gracious George will grant you pardon, fools.”
The speech was (like his play) a flop. The drama
Hung in the air, contributing to battle trauma.

Gen. Johnny bowed. No claps? A bullet zipped
Above his head. “Huh?” Zing. “Wha?” Whizz—from Charles-
town? Marksmen in abandoned buildings clipped
An epaulet—well-tailored, too! The churls.
And then, between the officer and isthmus,
A sunken ship erupted from the depths—
The Somerset!—to fix unfinished business.
Its dead crew gnawed dead fish, invoking Death.
Graves whispered to the ocean like a wizard
And aimed artillery to start a flaming blizzard.

Picture a man-of-war engulfing prey
Immobilized by venomed, coiling tendrils:
Just so, black sails were flailing past the prow,
The moldy, ragged shreds like spilling entrails
As a cold breeze propelled the ship towards town.
Its distant cannon smoked: a dreaming head
Was splattered on a friend. A fist of brown
Dirt wiped away the bits of mind that had
Been whole and open—where shared thoughts, hard-put
To work out words, were shortened by a foot.

The Somerset let off a broadside: balls
Came crashing like a thundercloud, or a quake
That belches tidal waves from Neptune’s bowels.
A building, set ablaze, began to shake
And then collapsed, burying Boston drawls
Within. The fire spread through streets, windblown,
As browncoats ran in all directions, drills
Forgotten, hugged by flames or crushed by stone.
From their low hill, companions watched the flashes
Reflecting in the bay as Charlestown burned to ashes.

Graves swiveled southwards—the redoubt! A boom.
Two sofa-sitters turned to feather soup.
A desk (with dork) was splintered. Next to bomb:
A Franklin Stove (not working, no big whoop).
How would they rest, how write, how heat a home?
Men, crouching, asked as furniture went flying.
Survival was the final comfort. Some
Thought freedom’s dream a pillow; others, crying
For bed, watched lines of troops amass below,
And hurried to escape the coming hammer blow.

A round shot flowered fleeing men—a vernal
Shower of gory cotton leaves. The spate
Of running swelled. Their officer, one Col.
Will Prescott, shouted to abbrev.
Retreat: with the generic title “Sir…”
He flagged deserters coming from good stock,
As labeled addressees—a gallant Mr.
And savage, hastily truncated Dr.
Were slurred by shelling—gentlemen no more.
Stern Prescott summoned all his eloquence—and swore.

The panicked soldiers halted: a well-dressed
Figure in white stood out against the dirt-
Stained coats. A Bible pressed against his vest
Of satin, stunned provincials watched him dart
Up the hill, brandishing a saber: Major
General Joseph Warren!—Running toward
The redoubt? He reached the top and made a wager
With Colonel Prescott: not to raise his sword
Up in command, but as a tool to preach.
Then, turning to the shell-shocked men, he made a speech:

“Why fleeing, friends? When liberty’s the prize,
Who’d shun the warfare? Who would stop to waste
A coward thought on life? This land we praise
So highly must be bought with blood—the worst
That can befall a man is death! What sweeter
Sacrifice to warm our soil: a clime
Of virtue, an asylum from all cheaters
And tyrants, till the final shock of time
Shall bury all the empires of the earth
In undistinguished ruin! What’s your freedom worth?”

Each man looked to his left, then to his right:
Each dirty face hid fear, darkened resolve.
One man thought of the thousand wrongs the spite
Of Britain did him, not to be absolved,
And sought to mete a thousand back. A pained
Old veteran recalled his training, hardened.
An ex-slave vowed he’d not return to chains.
Each soldier stood in self-reflection, heartened
By rhetoric they’d barely listened to,
Then turned to fight and prove their private reasons true.


Ballad for British Soldiers

Death or glory. Be the best. Just fall
In line. Their order digs your row of graves.
Death or glory. Your request. Go crawl
And whine. To kill you, they’ll cross distant waves.
Death or glory. Greece had grandeur, but
No class. Rome’s legions were confined to flatness.
Death or glory. Take one in the gut.
Eat grass. Their charge dashed off the modern atlas.
Know the motto?—‘With your shield, or on it.’
Poor tailors, Spartans. Redcoats are their shields, doggonit.

They came from London streets, pressed into service;
They came from Irish pubs, drinking and brawling;
They came from hilly Wales: browbeaten, nervous;
They came from Scottish jails, standards appalling.
They came with gambling debts (cause to get paid);
They came with hangovers (minds ironclad);
They came with syphilis (something to trade);
They came with felonies (don’t make them mad).
Harsh floggings trained these local vagabonds
To treat the Seven Seas like English garden ponds.


The First Wave

Lord Howe: “What see you? Terror-stricken faces?”
Lord Clinton (through a spyglass, moving lips):
“Light-colored coat. White satin vest. With laces
Of silver. Breeches—white—with silver loops.”
Howe (grabbing, glancing): “What the—”—“Think… their leader?”
—“He’ll rue the day! An easy mark, the fop.”
Howe’s aide-de-camp approached, bearing a liter
Of French rosé that sparkled with a pop.
A sip, a sigh, a sword raised towards the blue.
A bright volcano spewed: A-hoo! A-hoo! A-hoo!

The infantry stood, swaying like a rose
Bed in the wind beneath the hill: the steep
Incline, the muskets glinting in the rays—
The slaughter lay above, and they the sheep.
Some swilled their rum for courage; others mumbled
Prayers—but most were galvanized by fear.
Burgoyne cried, “Forward, march!” As soldiers stumbled,
He added: “Any man who quits his peers
Will suffer execution. Grant no quarter!”
Speeches are better when they’re tangible (and shorter).

Each redcoat looked ahead. One’s mind was on
His son; another’s, on his neck; one, rubbing
His barrel, swore a promise to the lawn
To give these damn colonials a drubbing.
The threats of their superiors rang loud
Inside each head as footsteps trampled clovers.
Above, stern Prescott ordered men to load,
But wait to see “the whites of their eyes.” Closer,
Closer… and blood-shot scleras hit the glare
Of black-eyed muskets. —“Fire!” Smoke suffused the air.

Men staggered, tumbled backwards—cursing God,
Rolling like logs—balls cutting columns deep.
Survivors. Tripped. Flee-falling. Like a dog
That tucks its tail and runs once it has peed
On public property, hot on the mating
Hunt when it’s Cupid-bitten, foaming mad
To rut, uncollared, wild from brutal taming.
This river altered by a beaver dam
Again flowed upwards, rippled cries reversing—
Deflated tennis balls thrown back for a re-serving.

These soldiers earned their epithets anon.
There fell the Counselor of Crows, eyes blear;
Nobodies of the Glancing Bearskins (nine
Of them); slow-footed Whats-His-Name, a blur
Of red who couldn’t quite escape the mess.
Spectators high above might, through the murk
Of clouds, mistake this for a frog-and-mice
Battle—and yet the subject to be mocked
Was man. Most practiced little arête;
Their excellence was formed by fertilizing clay.

Some inexperienced trigger fingers fumbled—
The fear of death is often overwhelmed
By the horror of aggression. Redcoats crumpled
Nearer, nearer. Falling corpses swelled
And sprawled. Frantic colonials tried stacking
Them, forming grisly breastworks—not made stiff
By rigor mortis, though, their limbs slumped, sticking
Out—flabby, shapeless mounds of fleshy stuff.
The niceties of war are engineered,
One (posthumously) learns—and bad memoirs revered.

The bullets zinged round Joseph Warren’s posh
White linens as he rushed where wounds were to
Be made, not healed. He cheered the men to push
The British back by pointing to the few
Refulgent coats not washed out to a pinkish
Orange against the sun: the crimson dye
Of officers ran deeper red as priggish
Young noblemen who’d paid good gold for day-
Bright wool fell dead, confusing rank and file,
Whose fraying lines unraveled with their cheap textiles.

Israel Putnam, veteran of France
And Britain’s Seven Years’ long war, reached out
And yanked down Warren as a cannon glanced
His shoulder. Clouds of dirt hit the redoubt.
Putnam, his beard as grizzled as a bear,
His ragged coat a mountain lion’s shag,
Grit yellow teeth and growled (while swilling beer):
“What are you doing here, you fool?” (A shrug.)
“You in command?” (A shake.) “Well still—don’t strut
Around like that!”—“It’s nice to see you too, Old Put.”


The Final Push

Lord Howe: “What see you through these cannon showers?”
Lord Clinton’s spyglass: “Corpses, corpses, corpses.”
—“Good. Excellent.”—“Not quite, my lord—they’re ours.”
Howe (nabbing, scanning): “Rally all our forces.”
The troops discarded knapsacks, pouches, gear.
Survivors clumped in threeish vague formations.
Howe marched in front at right; Burgoyne, mid-rear,
Cried: “Forward!” Clinton led his lower stations
At left. A fortress of frugality
Versus a cold triumvirate’s brutality.

Monomaniacal, Lord Howe made red
Rain down: the sun burned darker, hotter, rayed
Its heat; the planet Mars, enlarging, rowed
Against the starry ocean’s course and reigned
In the red sky, a pumpkin moon; the raid
Uphill accelerated: runners rode
Over the red-stained stumps, all bent like reeds
War elephants had trampled down. Howe’s rude
Red eyes glowed bright: this day would not be rued.
His red quartz necklace glowed; aristo bloodlust blued.

As Henry Clinton guided the left flank,
A nest of flies and bees and beetles, bugs
Of chaos and decay, swarmed round his rank
Like body armor: zipping into bags
Under the Yankees’ eyes to blind them, eating
Away the rotting bodies in his path.
A-stroll upon a mild summer outing,
He pulled enlisted men to buzzing deaths:
“March, maggots!” Privates fell in heaps, their warm
Life spilled by foes—nutrition for a friendly swarm.

They marched up, mad, · the middle lads, · hit hard.
De-haired, one head; · another pled · to not
So neatly fill · the bald spot. Foiled. · The horde
Was herded forth · by noble-birthed · red knights:
Each nut was rolled · by sword tip—riled, · pushed through
By true Burgoyne. · But with each gain, · recoil:
Their column, boweled · by frontal balls, · split three
Ways. Throwing out · his arm, John shouted, · “Kill,
My children!” Hack. · Too rough. Poor backs, · their joints
Ungentlemanned, · were carved—then mined · by bullet points.

There, crowded at the top, crouched Thomas Thorpe.
At Concord he had felt his captain’s heart-
Blood spurt upon him. Now, he tried to cope
With cannon-fire that threw up soil to heights
Near heaven, churning seeds and bones as devils
Gained ground: the redness of the redcoat lines,
The red of raging cheeks; the red sun—evils
Unfiltered. Red red red. His moral lens
Became a spectrum polarized by fright.
From here on out, he’d only see in black and white.

Howe led his grenadiers, preventing flight,
Drinking his sparkling wine as troopers fell
To the left and right. He passed the empty flute
Back to his aide-de-camp (“More zinfandel!”),
Who filled it from a bottle at his breast.
Howe, sipping, glimpsed a figure through his glass:
Larger than life, concave—that fellow dressed
In white… pointing at him? A musket blast,
A cloud of smoke, and Howe stood quite alone,
Unharmed amidst a regiment of blood and bone.

His servant dead, his bottle shattered (“Damn!”);
Lieutenants, captains, privates at his feet;
The glass his fingers held, a broken stem—
Howe stood atop the hill, pristine and neat.
Defenders lifted heads away from muskets;
Below, a medic halted making slings;
A cannon-loader dropped his ammo bucket;
Even the birds (perhaps) stopped flapping wings:
The hill fell silent so that all could stare
At William Howe, resplendent in his scarlet flair.

“What are you doing? Shoot him!” Prescott cried.
Heads fell back down and muskets clicked. No smoke.
“No ammunition left,” Old Put replied.
Howe glowered at the dirty faces. Choked
With anger, drawing out his saber, he
Rushed the redoubt and leapt the breastworks—slashing
Faces, impaling backs that tried to flee,
Parrying muskets. Blanketed in splashing
Traitors as Mars incarnadined the long
Dry afternoon, Howe thought of an old army song.

He whistled out of tune while swinging para
-llel, making feasts for worms: blood ran like wine.
This singing swordsman was a giddy pyro
Purging a matchbox; poor combatants—wan
Sunbathers idling on a sandy lake—
Reclined on Boston’s shore. Then, hit, he faltered:
A bullet spilled his ichor, looking like
A yellow cloud of flat champagne, unfiltered,
That muddles heads when mixed in bad mimosas.
Howe’s shifting vowels turned vile: a model of mimesis.

Just as a lion wounded in the chest
While running through a herd of wildebeests
Escapes by jumping towards a cliff, and pressed
Between the rocks and vultures keen to feast
On his carcass, manages to claw up far
Towards the top, where waits his cunning, low
Advisor jealous of his kingship, Scar,
Who throws him off (how could you do it, bro?)
As Mufasa’s son, the innocent young Simba,
Sees everything and flees to partner up with Pumba

And—oops, that simile won’t get produced
For several centuries! Too bad, it might
Have given Homer a creative boost.
His long analogies throughout his fights
Get tedious and make the action slow—
How many things can lions be compared to?
I’m limited to ten-line stanzas, so
My ‘epyllionic’ similes, if dared to
Run on, will tire, just like a lion cub
That, straying from its den, becomes hyena grub.


Note: The “two precious letters: M and S,” refers to Warren’s fiancée, Mercy Scollay.



Andrew Benson Brown has had poems and reviews published in a few journals. His epic-in-progress, Legends of Liberty, will chronicle the major events of the American Revolution if he lives to complete it. Though he writes history articles for American Essence magazine, he lists his primary occupation on official forms as ‘poet.’ He is, in other words, a vagabond.

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18 Responses

  1. Michael Pietrack

    ABB, your poetry has such “voice”. Since I’ve heard your voice so much on the podcast, I can’t help but hear your voice when reading this. I’m sure I’m. It alone, but I would love to hear you read this.

    I must admit, I did not see the Lion King reference coming. I loved lion cub/hyena grub pairing.

    Additionally, the “red” stanza was especially good and powerful.

    Please submit more epyllionic poetry!!!

    • ABB

      Thanks, MP. Want to do an audiobook version eventually but I have too much on my plate right now.

      Glad you enjoyed the Lion King allusion. I’m experimenting a bit with the possibilities of the epic ‘anti-simile’. Doing a running joke on pop culture comparisons, too. Have also written ones on Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, and Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ for future volumes.

      Trying to devote a stanza to Thomas Thorpe in each volume, obviously picking up here from vol. 1. In an account I read of the battle of Concord, it said that Thorpe fought through the war and never forgot the sight of the red blood that splashed on him when Captain Isaac Davis was killed.

      I imagine excerpts of this will be just about the only non-podcast material I submit to the site for the next several years.

  2. James Sale

    Masterful work. The rhyming is at sort-of genius level; and more impressive still is the syntactical movement of the lines that generates movement and interest simultaneously. It is of course very funny too! I think my favourite (note my spelling of favourite) section is – and perhaps I am biased – Ballad for the British Soldiers – the simple use of anaphora here achieves an astonishing effect: I love the almost climactic line, ‘They came with syphilis (something to trade)’. Young Benson Brown – along with certain others here – is one of the great hopes for American poetry in future.

    • ABB

      Glad you mentioned the rhyme scheme, James. Frequent use of near rhyme seemed more appropriate for a battle sequence. Experimenting with polysyllabic pararhyme in a few places. Still Byronic, but Byron via Wilfred Owen.

      Got the idea for the anaphora you mention from reading Dr. Seuss to my niece:

      It came without ribbons!
      It came without tags!
      It came without packages,
      boxes or bags!

  3. jd

    Agree with the above. Warfare is not my preferred subject, but all the poems had me riveted. They are all so colorful, alive and yes, with welcome humorous relief here and there.

    • ABB

      Thanks, jd. Glad to stir your interest in the subject. Humor does make gruesome things more palatable.

    • ABB

      Thanks, Phil. Spent over a year assembling notes for this chapter. A lot goes into it.

  4. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Your masterworks of classical poetry capture the time of revolution with unforgettable images and zinging sounds reflecting a momentous battle of the American Revolution. You delve into the very soul of the fight with great concepts and unerring aplomb while providing insight into the thoughts of the leaders in the battle with preternatural sensitivity to all that was transpiring. I can hardly wait to read your book and continue to savor the best of a great classical poet.

    • ABB

      High praise indeed, Roy. Appreciate your enthusiasm, hoping to release Vol 2 early next year. Will see what posterity thinks. If John Neihardt’s ‘A Cycle of the West’ holds up a distant mirror, it will be forgotten in no time. Or won’t even get enough initial attention to be forgotten, just fall dead-born from the press.

      How’s that for staying optimistic?

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    This is an amazing poem on the Battle of Bunker Hill, with a tremendous number of details and comments from both the British and American perspectives. We were defeated (we ran out of ammo), but the Brits got a very bloody nose that they didn’t expect.

    The Brits sent troops in formation up the hill — a tactical mistake which cost them dearly, especially against a defensive position. But did they learn their lesson? I understand that they did the same thing in World War I, against German machine guns. Who was running Sandhurst?

    • ABB

      Thanks, Joe. Excerpt was taken from the middle of the chapter, so the abrupt intro of a few characters is probably a bit confusing without added context, like why Admiral Graves is commanding an undead crew in Pirates of the Caribbean-fashion.

      My favorite detail of that day is how William Howe led his men into battle personally, and really was the last man standing when a volley killed his entire column, leaving him miraculously unscathed following his tactical arrogance. On the other side, Warren was also pristine in his light-colored clothes, until the end.

  6. Evan Mantyk

    Andrew, thank you for sharing this piece with the SCP. There is a lot here to enjoy and appreciate such as the “shortened by a foot” lines in which the person was literally shortened by a foot from losing his head and the line is shortened by a metrical foot.

    I have been working on something using this meter and as a form it seems quite well constructed and versatile. Can we call it the Benson-Brownian stanza or BB stanza for short? I know you are following in the *foot*steps of Byron, but Spenser too employed a similar stanza for a more serious epic. Do you see yourself as following in his footsteps too?

    • ABB

      The first casualty of the battle actually was a colonial who lost his head to a cannonball.

      Hmm, Benson-Brownian has a clunkiness to it, though BB stanza not bad. I was joking around with Michael Pietrack a while back, and he called it a Bensonian stanza. Even though it’s just a truncated English sonnet with an alexandrine at the end. I did have Spenser in mind with that flourish. He’s one of the epic writers I read for inspiration, a lot more than Byron, actually. Don’t read Byron much because I always steal things from authors I read, and the poem already has too much of his imprint in terms of tone and character.

      I look forward to reading your piece when it’s up on the site!

  7. Margaret Coats

    Andrew, one strength of your battle poetry is moving the focus around among individuals, whether leaders or common soldiers. I am especially impressed here by the brief comment about each man’s self-reflection impelling his acts. This can be decisive when equipment and tactics are such that morale becomes a major weapon, as it was in the American war for independence. It is always of human interest, even when other factors override it. I also like the sense of confusion you create. This is truly a part of war for the individual, who may never get any broader historical sense of his own part in a battle. This was certainly true for my acquaintances who had served in Vietnam, though like myself stateside, they were communications specialists, not infantrymen. I also appreciate the speeches, because at any level, the words of leaders on the ground have great impact, good or bad. And best of all, you have real fighting here. Battle stories can get bogged down in personalities and circumstances. I made an attempt of my own recently, as you once recommended, and found how much effort is required to present fighting in real proportion. I commend your structure in sections to deal duly with the composition of forces. Good work!

    • ABB

      Your comments are incisive as always, Margaret. Obviously have no first-hand knowledge of war myself (if I did, doubt I would want to write about it), so have to rely on books. John Keegan’s classic account about warfare from the ground level, ‘The Face of Battle,’ has been a big help. One of the things Keegan addresses is that, regarding individual motivation, concrete speeches that focus on remembering training or taking revenge—or even simply threatening soldiers—are more effective than abstract speeches about ideas. So I added the bit about interpreting Warren’s grand speech in individual terms each person would understand.

      Was reading Apollonius recently, and I felt that his descriptions of the action sequences were too brief. The best parts—fighting the earthborn men, stealing the golden fleece—happen too quickly, though the buildup takes so long. Another epic that I’m ambivalent about in this respect (and others) is ‘John Brown’s Body.’ For some reason, I find Benet’s descriptions of battle both boring—too prosy—and psychologically unrealistic, like when characters start daydreaming about their home lives in the moment when bullets are zinging around. So I tried to make fun of that authorial tendency in the stanza about the colonials’ furniture being blown up.

      Glad you are doing a battle story. Women almost never write about that. Is it up on the site somewhere? If so, I’ll check it out.

  8. Paul A. Freeman

    No wonder we came back and burned down the White House in 1814!

    A lot of good action going on here, ABB. I loved the contrast in the pep talks and the black-eyed muskets in contrast to the human ‘white eyes’. The idea that the Red Coats were ill-motivated and largely drawn from the dregs and the desperate of society, whereas the Colonials had everything to fight for and were therefore well-motivated, comes through well.

    Also, this is the first poem I’ve ever seen using the word ‘Monomaniacal’!

    I’m not sure about the use of ‘liter’ for wine. I believe the French were using Roman measures still, like the ‘quartarius’ (I looked that up) until their Revolution. Flagon or goblet could perhaps do instead.

    You use the word ‘boweled’ where I think you mean ‘bowled’ ‘or ‘disemboweled’ – If the former, have no fear, I shall never remind you of it again!

    I’m glad you explained M&S – Marks and Spencer (M&S) is a famous chain of clothes shops in the UK

    Thanks for the read.

    • ABB

      Appreciate your close reading, Paul. Terrible to be a British soldier in this battle, knowing that you are literally just marching to your inevitable death. The officers literally had to push their underlings uphill from behind at sword point—hence the joke about General Burgoyne pushing a bit too hard and running one through.
      Yes, the ‘mono’ in monomaniacal is key to the mono-pararhymes that follow. I did mean ‘disemboweled’ and just contracted it to ‘boweled,’ but I can see how that doesn’t really make sense, and ‘bowled’ actually works better—changed it to that in the manuscript. As far as ‘liter,’ need a rhyme for ‘leader,’ so will just keep that minor error in.


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