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Lyr Req: Kilroy Was Here (Ewan MacColl)

DigiTrad:
BALLAD OF ACCOUNTING
BRITAIN'S MOTORWAYS
DIRTY OLD TOWN
FAREWELL TO TARWATHIE (2)
GO DOWN, YOU MURDERERS
GOODBY TO THE THIRTY FOOT TRAILER
JOY OF LIVING
MANCHESTER RAMBLER
MY OLD MAN
NOBODY KNEW SHE WAS THERE
NORTH SEA HOLES
SCHOOLDAYS END
SECOND FRONT SONG
SHELLBACK SONG
SHOALS OF HERRING
SONG OF THE IRON ROAD
THE BALLAD OF TIM EVANS
THE FIRST TIME
THE TERROR TIME
THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
THE WEEK YOUR MAN'S AWA' or FISHERMAN'S WIFE


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Lyr Add: Legal Illegal (Seeger/MacColl) (4)


GUEST,John 01 Feb 01 - 07:43 PM
GUEST,mgarvey 02 Feb 01 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,m g 02 Feb 01 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,JohnB 02 Feb 01 - 12:28 PM
GUEST 02 Feb 01 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,John 02 Feb 01 - 01:52 PM
Keith A of Hertford 02 Feb 01 - 03:04 PM
shanty_steve 06 Dec 01 - 12:33 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Dec 01 - 01:35 PM
Gareth 06 Dec 01 - 04:09 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Dec 01 - 04:12 PM
Spud Murphy 06 Dec 01 - 04:57 PM
Herga Kitty 06 Dec 01 - 05:20 PM
Joe_F 06 Dec 01 - 07:00 PM
GUEST 06 Dec 01 - 11:58 PM
GUEST,Stavanger Bill 07 Dec 01 - 03:22 AM
GUEST,Boab 07 Dec 01 - 05:08 AM
shanty_steve 07 Dec 01 - 06:00 AM
Abby Sale 07 Dec 01 - 10:24 AM
Herga Kitty 07 Dec 01 - 02:40 PM
Deckman 07 Dec 01 - 09:33 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 08 Dec 01 - 05:21 AM
breezy 08 Dec 01 - 05:36 AM
Deckman 08 Dec 01 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,SallyMadrid 06 Feb 11 - 06:12 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 11 - 03:16 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 11 - 05:49 AM
GUEST,Mike Leigh 25 Nov 11 - 03:31 PM
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Subject: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,John
Date: 01 Feb 01 - 07:43 PM

Will anyone out there give me their interpretation of Ewan MacColl's "Kilroy Was Here"? I took it to be about the way the common labourer is forced to double up on their workload during times of war. I suppose I was influenced to view it this way from reading Orwell's "Road to Wigan Pier", and his portrayal of the coal mines during the first world war. Am I far off of the mark here?


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,mgarvey
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 11:26 AM

I think someone in WWII, a soldier or airman, used to paint Kilroy was here all over the place. I've seen stories about it. Probably a web search would reveal some.

mg


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,m g
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 11:28 AM

here is one theory.. http://library.thinkquest.org/3205/gather/U960825.001359.html


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 12:28 PM

                        !
________^^^^__________0 0________^^^^____
I I U I
__________________________________________
KILROY WAS HERE I
______I_________I________I_______I________
Close as I could get. JohnB.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 12:30 PM

Well it looked closer before I sent it. JohnB


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,John
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 01:52 PM

Sorry, I should have pointed out that I was aware of this symbol and its ubiquitous nature during the war. I assumed MacColl to be using "Kilroy" as a wartime image, and not as the actual topic which he was portraying. What is Kilroy representing in the broader context of the song?

John


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 03:04 PM

I have a sleeve note on the song, probably written by Colin Irwin.
Kilroy is the invisible survivor, the anonymous hero who came to symbolise the toughness of the one who not only gets up after the battle and walks away but allows himself to let you know he has done so.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: shanty_steve
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 12:33 PM

Does anyone have the lyrics to this song? I've searched here and using google, but to no avail. Thanks, Stephen


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM

To give even more interest the 'Kilroy was 'ere' symbol - very similar to the one done by JohnB, above, is also similar to the schematic for the wheatstone bridge. (Can anyone confirm that btw?). Now then, the wheatstone bridge was invented by Prof. Wheatstone. - who also came up with the linkage mechanisms for various concertinas and accordians enabling them to use less reeds and more buttons! As well as being a prolific inventor he was also into squeeze boxes!

Gosh, I don't half carry a load of useless twoddle around with me don't I...

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 01:35 PM

Sorry - should have said that he actualy invented the English Concertina system - I believe the same linkage mechanism was also used for the bass side of other various chromatic accordians in later times.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Gareth
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 04:09 PM

The Wheatstone Bridge - Memories are fading but wasn't that the Chad - fingers and nose poking over a wall with the words - " What No ..... " Believed to be a comment on Wartime Rationing.

Can an old Catter Comment ??

Gareth

(Mr Chad - No conection with Florida elections)


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 04:12 PM

I think you are right, Gareth. I'm sure I have seen the fingers and nose over the wall for Kilroy as well though - probably wrong as usual. Ah well. Gave me chance for a bit of rambling though!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Spud Murphy
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 04:57 PM

Kilroy had no rhyme nor purpose. It was just a joke, in and of itself. It just grew, until every wall or blank piece of paper had a picture of kilroy on it. Those who couldn't draw wrote the message: "KILROY WAS HERE" I did it myself, more than one. Check out wartime copies of Esquire Magazine, or early issues of 'Mad"

There was nothing mysterious about it. No secret codes or conspiracies. Just fun. Like Mudcatters do sometimes.

(Not to say that some twisted mind didn't seek to turn it to his own purpose.)

Spud


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Subject: Lyr Req: KILROY WAS HERE (Ewan MacColl)
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 05:20 PM

Keith A

I've just checked the album notes for the Walters & Warner CD "Who was here?" They give almost the same quote from Ewan MacColl as you, except that their version says "the one who not only gets up after the battle and walks away, but allows himself time to let you know he has done so".

Shanty Steve

From the same source, here are the words:

Who was here when they handed out the heavy jobs
Jobs with the hammer, the pick and shovel
Who choked in the foundry, froze in the fish docks,
Eight days in the week?

Who was here with a mile of rock above him,
Three foot seam in the darkness crouching
Stinging sweat in his eyes, powdered rock in his spittle
One hundred minutes to the hour?

Who was here in the furrowed fields crouched over
Pain shapes the question in bone and muscle
Roots and hands competing, fumbling, groping
Twenty eight hours to the day?

Who was here in a world of steam and clamour
Feeding Leviathan in his cavern
Tasting the hot sharp stink of metal
Six weeks to the month?

Hey there, dogsbody, what do they call you?
Who cleans up the mess when the fighting's over?
Who carries the broom, the mop and the bucket
Thirty six months to the year?

Smooth-faced old-boy men instructed him
Geldings programmed his energy
Coached in running by men whose arches had fallen
Dead men taught him how to live.

Kilroy, Kilroy, where has Kilroy gone?
Kilroy was here, see there's his mark.
He came this way, he was wearing his number.
Did no-one see him pass?


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Joe_F
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 07:00 PM

In _The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook_, Peggy Seeger writes:

A letter to _The Independent_ as to the original of Kilroy brought a host of replies. The most favoured of them was the following: James Kilroy was the senior shipyard inspector at...Quincy, Massachusetts, where they built Liberty Ships.... Each weld had to be individually inspected.... It was Kilroy's peculiar custom to record his approval by writing on the weld itself, sometimes KILROY WAS HERE and sometims the famous nose-and-fingers draping over the horizontal line.... Every crewmember who sailed on one of "his" ships was continually encountering the phrase or the face...wherever there were visible welds. Kilroy soon became the archetypal watcher. Then he became Kilroy the slogger, the unknown plebs, the Rumplestiltskin, the eternal presence -- whatever you wanted him to be. He's everywhere. Is he Jack?


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 11:58 PM

MacColl (1980) says:

The chip and nuclear energy! And if the one don't get you then the other one will...

And Kilroy, who has heard it all before and who is accustomed to getting the shitty end of the stick begins to wonder whether the world wouldn't be a safer place without all those talking heads and this shrill pantomime dame whose verbal diarrhoea threatens his world with imminent inundation.

Almost all the bands on this disc are about this or that aspect of Kilroy's condition: Kilroy old, Kilroy young, Kilroy male, Kilroy female, Kilroy hoping, Kilroy despairing. Above all, it is about the terrifying dangers that confront Kilroy now, _now_, NOW.!


MacColl may not have meant exactly what others meant by "Kilroy" but the question seemed to ask what MacColl meant. I think Guest, John was pretty close.

The text given above are good except for a very few words.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Stavanger Bill
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 03:22 AM

Very similar to what Joe F turned up above, I can remember reading about an American Customs Inspector during the time of Prohibition in the States called Oliver Kilroy. When inspecting cargo crates he signed that he had inspected crates by marking them with his initials O.K.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 05:08 AM

I lost a dear Friend last week. He was one of the decrasing number who earned, back in the early forties, the nickname "Desert Rats"---a soubriquet attached by non other than Erwin Rommel, whom, my pal Johnny insisted, was one of the finest Officers ever to command an army. Johnny was RAF regiment, but had to share the to-ing and fro-ing with all theother squaddies in North Africa. He used to tell us of many of the more humorous facets of life in the Desert. One of the things he used to recount was a practice which he attributed to the wags in the 51st Highland Div.., who always claimed to be in the forefront of things. He reckoned that no matter how fast most of the army could scamper after Rommels army [when the scampering was in that direction, at least!] there was this ever-present scrawled exclamation left by some impudent squaddie of the 51st---"Kilroy Was Here!" The wee man peeking over the wall, as far as I recall, was known as "Chad". The true origin of the expression will likely lie elsewhere; but the war in the Desert surely dates it well back.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: shanty_steve
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 06:00 AM

What a powerful song! MacColl appropriates the image of the anonymous WWII soldier - the one who is everywhere, does the dirty work, the fighting and the dying. He applies this image to all the other crap jobs carried out by the working classes throughout history.

Herga Kitty - thanks a million for the lyrics, and guest Boab, sorry for your recent loss.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Abby Sale
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 10:24 AM

Stephen, I totally agree.

Sorry, I was confused above by being relegated to "Guest" (or promoted, I'm not sure). What I meant by "The text given above are good except for a very few words." was referring to Herga Kitty's song text, not my own quote.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 02:40 PM

As I said in my previous post, the words I gave were from the insert from John Warner and Margaret Walters' CD - what I haven't yet done is to check these words against the version they actually sang in the studio. As we know, the folk process has a habit of modifying songs from one rendition to another.....

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 09:33 PM

I just caught this thread and thought I'd add a little. I well remember the Kilroy symbol. And it was, as so many have said, just a joke, a laugh, a little statement originally scrawled all over Europe by the American soldiers during WWII. As a house builder, then a house remodeler, now a deck builder, I often run into my own evidences of earlier "Kilroys." It's very common for me to take apart a structure that was built 30 - 40 - 80 or more years ago. I often find, on the backside of various pieces, the building carpenters notes: measurments, notes, and occasionally I will find a carpenters signatures and dates. I call these time capsules. (Yes, I still do the same today). So, Kilroy wasn't the first, just one of the more well known. CHEERS to all, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 05:21 AM

Newport, Rhode Island, USA is full of Kilroys. David Kilroy Sr. Owns "The Landing" "Frasch's Bakery", "The Cobblestone" and other establishments. He is also a "Roofer" a hard working man who repairs roofs. I don't mean that he just owns the company, he works right along with his crew and during the day he is usually wearing overalls with many splashes of coal tar (pitch) on it. He is one of the funniest people I know. His brother, Gary Kilroy, owns "One Pelham East" and the night club on the top floor of the same building. He also is an old friend of mine. Gary is presently engaged in sailing around the world. There are bunches of Kilroys all over the city, fine people, every one that I know. Some are quite wealthy, but, continue to work because, as David puts it, "What the Hell would I do with myself all day long if I quit working?"

To make a short story longer, David told me, once, that the WWII Kilroy responsible for the "Kilroy was here" graffiti is (or was) a cousin who lives in Massachusetts in a little town near Boston. He was a plumber, by trade, before the war and went back to it after the war. He was in North Africa and then , before D-Day, in England, at the Normandy landings of D-Day and throughout the remainder of the European war up front or in reserve right up until the german surrender. Being a plumber, he srote "Kilroy was Here" near every plumbing fixture he encountered, kitchen sinks,, bathrooms, lavatories, water pipes, drain pipes, etc. What started off as a personal bit of humor in a very grim world, soon took on a life of it's own. Other soldiers, having seen his prolific scribblings, imitated him and began writing, "Kilroy was here" on just about every where and every thing imaginable. David says that he doesn't think his cousin originated the little guy peering over the wall. I remember having seen the little guy all over Dayton Ohio, where I lived from 1942 to 1946 with "Mop. Mop" written underneath. I don't have any idea where he originated.

STAVENGER BILL:

Okeh (pronounced O.K.) is a Choctaw Indian word. It means, "O.K." Look in the Dictionary. Mine says "American Indian" , but, I remember seeing it in another dictionary that was more specific, and gave it's derivation as "Choctaw, American Indian. The Chctaw's I seem to recall, live in West Virginia, Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: breezy
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 05:36 AM

and what do you find at the top of the ropes in the old school halls?...and he even has an a.m. T.V. show.


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Subject: RE: Kilroy Was Here-Ewan MacColl
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 11:48 AM

As I recall vaugely, I think that the great Ernie Pyle had a lot to do with the publicity during the War. Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kilroy Was Here (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,SallyMadrid
Date: 06 Feb 11 - 06:12 PM

I stumbled upon this thread whilst attempting my own research on "Kilroy" and have found it useful - there are some very interesting thoughts and memories here. But I'm still struggling to make sense of my "Kilroy", and I wonder if anyone has any ideas:

I live in Madrid where there is a lot of graffiti and street art. The latest to appear (I've seen it in two places now, but one was hastily painted over) is a large, scrawled:
"KILROY WASN'T HERE".
I'm sure, from the neighbourhood, that it is intended to be a political statement; I assumed related to the economic crisis and unemployment and ironically intended. This is probably because I was familiar with the MacColl song - his Kilroy was such a worker but now who has the opportunity to work hard and prove themselves in this way?
But reading all your memories and the origins of the phrase, I'm no longer sure this works. Of course it's more than possible that the graffiti artist has just taken something they know little about and run with it, but I'd be very interested to know your takes on it.
Many thanks!


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Subject: Lyr Add: GUM SHELLAC ('Pop's' Johnny Connors)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 03:16 AM

The 'Kilroy' type figure was used several times by MacColl to symbolise the universal working man: The Fitters Song (navvy), Shellback (seaman), The Big Hewer (miner) spring to mind.
It was used by other songmakers - Universal Soldier, for instance.
We recorded this from Wexford Traveller 'Pop's' Johnny Connors an activist fighting for Travellers' rights in the 1960/70s; it expresses perfectly his pride in the skills and experiences of Travelling People.
Jim Carroll

GUM SHELLAC
(Roud 2508) 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, Wexford Traveller

We are the travelling people
Like the Picts or Beaker Folk,
The men in Whitehall thinks we're parasites
But tinker is the word.
With our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Move us on you boyoes.

All the jobs in the world we have done,
From making Pharaoh's coffins
To building Birmingham.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out you heroes.

We have mended pots and kettles
And buckets for Lord Cornwall,
But before we'd leave his house me lads,
We would mind his woman and all.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Well I have a little woman
And a mother she is to be,
She gets her basket on her arm,
And mooches the hills for me.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Dowdled verse.

We fought the Romans,
The Spanish and the Danes,
We fought against the dirty Black and Tans
And knocked Cromwell to his knees.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

Well, we're married these twenty years,
Nineteen children we have got.
Ah sure, one is hardly walking
When there's another one in the cot.
Over our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Get out of that you boyoes.

We have made cannon guns in Hungary,
Bronze cannons in the years BC
We have fought and died for Ireland
To make sure that she was free.
With a gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

We can sing a song or dance a reel
No matter where we roam,
We have learned the Emperor Nero
How to play the pipes
Way back in the days of Rome.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Whack it if you can me boyoes.

Dowdled verse.

'Pop's' Johnny Connors, the singer of this song, is also the composer. He was an activist in the movement for better conditions for Travellers in the 1960s and was a participant in the Brownhills eviction, about which he made the song, The Battle of Brownhills, which tells of an unofficial eviction in the Birmingham area which led to the death of three Traveller children. An account of part of his experiences on the road is to be found in Jeremy Sandford's book Gypsies under the chapter heading, Seven Weeks of Childhood. This was written while Johnny was serving a prison sentence in Winson Green Prison in the English Midlands. He said that further chapters of an intended biography were confiscated by the prison authorities and never returned to him on his release.
Gum shellac is a paste formed by chewing bread, a technique used by unscrupulous tinsmiths to supposedly repair leaks in pots and pans. When polished, it gives the appearance of a proper repair but, if the vessel is filled with water, the paste quickly disintegrates, giving the perpetrator of the trick just enough time to escape with his payment.

Ref: Gypsies, Jeremy Sandford, Seeker and Warburg, 1973


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Kilroy Was Here (Ewan MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 05:49 AM

Cross out 'Fitters Song' - substitute Seven Days in the Week, Jack of all Trades, and We Are The Engineers to MacColl's above list.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: Lyr Add: KILROY WAS HERE (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,Mike Leigh
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 03:31 PM

The lyrics on Ewan MacColl's Antiquities album as fairly close to what was posted earlier, with a few small changes. Here is a slightly revised version:

KILROY WAS HERE
Who was here when they handed out the heavy jobs
Jobs with the hammer, the pick and shovel
Who choked in the foundry, froze at the fish docks,
Eight days to the week?

Who was here with a mile of rock above him,
Three-foot seam in the darkness crouching
Stinging sweat in his eyes, powdered rock in his spittle
A hundred minutes to the hour?

Who was here in the furrowed fields stooped over
Pain shapes the question in bone and muscle
Roots and hands competing, fumbling, groping
Twenty-eight hours to the day?

Who was here in a world of steam and clamour
Feeding Leviathan in his cavern
Breathing the hot sharp stink of metal
Five weeks to the month?

Hey you, dog's body, what do they call you?
Who cleans up the mess when the fighting's over?
Who carries the broom, the mop and the bucket
Thirty-six months to the year?

Smooth-faced old boy-men instructed him
Geldings programmed his energy
Coached in running by men whose arches had fallen
Dead men told him how to live.

Kilroy, Kilroy—where has Kilroy gone?
Kilroy was here, see there's his mark.
He came this way, he was wearing his number.
Did nobody see him pass?


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