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I came across yet another of those horrid “I’mma time-travel and kill Hitler!” sci-fi “novels” on Amazon the other day, and it got me thinking about the one man in history who had the best chance to do so. Without the aid of time travel. But just as pity caused Bilbo to spare Gollum, so did pity motivate Henry Tandey—to the sorrow of the world. It’s this key moment in history—five minutes, tops—that makes a body contemplate the caprice of the universe, and how often an individual kindness can lead us to unimaginable places.


Let us think of Henry Tandey.
Astride the fulcrum of history,
he is nevertheless just a man.

Cold; dirty; impossibly weary.
Streaked with blood and bits of
la terre français.

Through his eyes, let us see
the torn field, hear the screams
and try not to breathe the

heavy stench
of men dying for
inches of blood-soaked earth.

Let us think of Henry Tandey:

A young man with a gun.

So; this ragamuffin German
Now staggering into view.
He’s wounded and dazed, alone

in a field of thousands.

Through the crosshairs
of a battered rifle, he
seems a lost lamb,

The lion inside him
not yet ready to roar
and rage and ravage.

He is, as he shall always be,
a pitiful thing, broken and
so eager to break.

But today he is not even 30
And the War to End All Wars
Has kindled in the Brit

A need for compassion;
For some small act that
will keep him whole.

And so Henry Tandey,
A hero beyond reproach,
Lowers his weapon.

And sets the world afire.

Published inpoetry

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