A poem by Elmer Ake,
            inspired by his real life experience during World War II.
            I have many names but you may call me Death
            And you will curse my name until your final breath.
            Eventually your soul will belong to me
            There is no place for you to flee.
            It will do no good to beg and plea
            For I am La Mort, In French I am the Fini.

            The Chateau was a dreary rundown place
            The windows looked like hollow eyes in a dead face.
            We came up a driveway lined with pines
            They formed an arch where the sun never shines
            They stood like wraiths with branches entwined.
            Of human inhabitants there was no sign.

            Twelve American soldiers, three jeep loads
            We were scouting the enemy down back country roads.
            We turned in through a dilapidated rusty iron gate
            Where two marble lions lay in wait
            With cold beady eyes shining with hate
            They welcomed us to come and meet our fate.

            Reconnaissance is not a piece of cake
            You die when you make one mistake.
            We left our jeeps and radio parked in the lane
            Was a mistake we wouldn't make again.
            The house looked deserted that was plain
            And their was nothing in the pine woods we could ascertain.

            Four of us went in the front door
            And left the rest outside to explore.
            The inside was a picture from a history page
            It was like a scene from another age.
            I was sure the ghosts who lived here would scream with rage
            If we didn't back off, didn't disengage.

            But we searched the house room by room and floor by floor.
            And found no signs that others had been here before.
            We listened but the house was silent as a tomb.
            Not one soul in any room.
            Then I opened the cellar door and peered down into the gloom.
            I thought is this the place we meet our doom?

            Vern and I went down to see where the steps led
            And found an old man laying on a bed.
            By a single candles flickering light
            That barely held back the encroaching night
            Lay an old man swathed in gleaming white.
            All my life I have not forgotten the sight.

            The cellar was huge and cloaked in gloom
            We could see many doors leading to other rooms
            Sometimes when your heart is tugged by fear
            And things are not what they appear
            A voice will whisper in your ear
            Better get the hell out of here.

            When I looked at Vern the fear on his face began to show.
            I said old buddy we had better go.
            As I turned too look at the old man's face
            I thought I saw a smile, just a trace.
            We sure left there at a faster pace.
            When we heard a rifle bolt click into place.

            When we got up to the kitchen we heard a loud clatter.
            You don't mistake a machine guns chatter.
            I looked out the window for the sound.
            Saw a couple of the guys laying face down.
            They were dead before they hit the ground.
            None of the other men were still around.

            To the left in the pine woods a wisp of smoke
            And once again the machine gun spoke.
            Then I heard my guys down by the road
            Firing as fast as they could load.
            I told my men time to leave this abode
            They didn't need anymore goad.

            When we got to the radio and the call went out.
            We needed help the place was full of krauts.
            Then in the rear the big guns snarled and spoke.
            The Chateau and the pine woods vanished in a cloud of smoke.
            And in his bed The Grim Reaper awoke
            And came for another load of folk.

            And he came with a bony horse and dray
            Loaded all the souls and drove away.
            I don't curse you Death, my friend;
            I would never treat you with vilipend.
            For I know we will meet someday in the end
            And to Gods kingdom I will transcend.

            All my life I wondered was that old man really dead?
            Just who lit that candle beside the bed?
            Was the Chateau de la mort a place where spirits dwell?
            Or did the marble lions guard the gates of hell?
            I am sure friend Death you could tell.
            Is the Chateau de la Mort the place where spirits say farewell?

              AGHOSTLY PLACE
                by Elmer Ake
            Is this the ghostly place where spirits dwell?
            Or did we just catch a glimpse off hell?
            We have pitched our tents on hallowed ground
            Where no other habitation could be found.
            A desolate place peaceful and still nary a sound
            Not another soul for miles around.

            As soldiers have done since the beginning of time
            We build a fire sit around and watch the sun go down.
            A few birds are chirping in the trees
            The grass is gently stirred by an evening breeze.
            Then lifts a high and slowly shakes the leaves
            And tears the web the spider weaves.

            Now the evening sun is sinking low
            To the east the evening star begins to glow.
            My comrades have one by one arose
            To find their blankets for a nights repose.
            To find sleep and rest from the days toil and woes
            And to find relief from the days hard blows.

            The darkness now walks about
            And just the dying embers keeps it out.
            Only a couple of us are still sitting here
            When we hear foot steps coming near.
            And out of the shadows a stranger does appear
            An officer from a long ago year.

            He says I am Lt. Anderson, may I rest by your fire?
            May I sit here a little while? I will only stay an hour.
            Then he went on to say I lost all my men today.
            They were with me at the hornets nest as I led the way
            But when I turned to look they had gone astray.
            As I looked a tear fell on his coat of gray.

            As I sat and listened I was entranced
            Each word he spoke I was more enhanced.
            I got up and threw more wood on the fire
            And the sparks flew high from the pyre.
            As the flames rose higher and higher
            I saw ghostly figures standing in the surrounding bower.

            Hundreds of men were standing around
            Yet no one spoke nor did they make a sound.
            Strange looking men in blood soaked gray
            In the fire light they seemed to shift and sway.
            Eyes shining in faces colorless as clay
            You knew these men had been through hell that day.

            These strange apparitions with their burning eyes
            Had charged the gates of hell, had heard the devils cries.
            Then Anderson spoke and looked straight at me
            As you are now so once were we
            And as we are now so shall you be.
            Just a sentence on a page of history.

            The ghostly forms are moving more near
            And in my heart a twinge of fear.
            Their uniforms are torn and tattered.
            Mud in their hair is dry and matted.
            Dirty bandages with blood and gore are splattered
            Dirty bare feet and legs that look slatted.

            Gray wraiths that do not see or feel
            Holding weapons that shine like polished steel.
            Lt. Anderson spoke what they had done
            How across that terrible field they had run.
            How the deadly fire had killed every one
            No one lived to see the setting sun.

            From the distance comes a muffled drum beat
            And Lt. Anderson arises from his seat.
            We watch the wraiths form a skirmish line
            With bayonets that glimmer and shine.
            When you watch it sends a chill down your spine
            You know they will do this until the end of time.

            Then Vern looks at me and shakes his head
            And we stumble off to bed.
            When the dawn breaks and the sun peeps through
            And we put on our coats of blue.
            When we form our lines straight and true
            Lt. Anderson we are waiting here for you.

 Copyright © 1998-2007 by Elmer Ake.  All rights reserved.

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