Copyright (c) 1999 First Things 94 (June/July 1999): 9,16, 30,35, 39.


St. Paul to the Berliners

(Romans 11:17)


A photograph of a German slum

in Toland’s life of Hitler

Circa 1932: flags from a dozen windows,

Swastikas slightly outnumbering

Hammer and Sickle.

Behind those tenement doors

Are all the answers”everything we need

To analyze the coming rubble,

The endless lines of gray people

In smoking cities and snowy fields.


Wherever

The last shot was fired”in some Berlin

Alley, I guess”every flag on that slum street

Waves for a dead man, cartwheeling swastika

Or crossed golden tools,

Deadly symbols that lured as Baal’s

Furnaces lured all Carthage in the days

Of infant sacrifice:

We produce, we can do . . .


You are the wild

Olive branch, St. Paul told the Romans.

Unto Caesar , Berlin replied.


”Lawrence Dugan



Corinthian Nurse


When I was a child

I talked as adults did,

Thought like an adult,

Acted like one, too,

Obeyed as commanded,

Walked wards I never

Wanted to set foot in,

A subject to serve.


Now that I am a man

I talk as children do,

Think like a child,

Am the sun for earth

to orbit, flaunt a whim

as wind a mote in

the eye while a beam

pins down a patient.


T. Kretz



Messenger


Ezekiel was calm

even when lifted by his hair

to see the glory of God”

ankles crossed,

arms at his side.

Equable, too, when his wife died.

He mourned not, as instructed,

nor threw off his sandals.

The first time he saw the Cherubim,

each with four wings and four faces;

for the entirety of a week

he sat and he shuddered”

God held him.

It left no field for imagination.

“His horses will be so many

they will cover you with dust.

You will be sought

but never again will you be found.”

The width of each door and window

is measured by a man of bronze and

the doors and windows are gone.


This he saw and no spittle formed

at the corners of his mouth.

The sober man has his place in prophecy

and the fevered man,

what can we say of his burning charity?


Samn Stockwell



Epitaph


Chiseled on the great stone

Before tomb without bone:


He was a good man but

Weak administration

Of his father’s estate

A disgrace, a scandal;

He lent without profit

Coins imaged with Caesar,

Often gave outright from

Stores of oil and grain,

Let poor and puny use

The shacks and fields for free,

Latecomers and lazy

Paid same as diligent,

Made forgive and forget

Requisites for foremen,

Mistreating enemies

Second capital crime,

Expecting change with time.


With the father away

Holdings began to wane;

Son’s policies could not

Survive Jerusalem,

Much less Roman Empire;

So not without reason

Some rascals killed the son,

Each hoping to be one

Of those named to succeed.


T. Kretz



“My Name Is Pablo Chanto”


She was a staff nurse, great thighs

barreling round the corridor

with chains of trolleys

stacked to the port holes with pills

potions, ointments for the gout, charts stuffed with magic”


once in the operating theatre

when they brought in a dead father

well almost dead

in a Hawaiian shirt blessed with flowers

streaming, his hands all wet with papaya juice

(he was stabbed, in a restaurant)

he opened his eyes and looked straight at her

“My name is Pablo Chanto” he said

and he closed his eyes and she could hear

as they opened his chest

and tried to get his breath

fishes leaving the sunk reef

opening the carafes of their throats

and swallowing wine out of the reeds

like bubbles reaching hands

in streams out of his mouth

at the bottom of the ocean in a galleon,

fish swimming in streams out of his chest

and the flowers on the gurney

in his shirt, flowers soaked and billowing

with red all whisper as she reaches

in his chest to scoop the fish out

“You must go home and write this down.”


Atar Hadari


Articles by Various

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