Saturday, October 24, 2009


all work is copyrighted 2014 by Dale Jacobson


The car sailing in and out of calendars, 
telephone poles falling away like crosses, 
a good excuse, we drank to each other's exile,
the future of false friends, thieves and war.

Easy, those rambunctious times when 
solidarity would last forever, extravagant 
days and nights fueled by booze:  such  
wisdom on the tongue that never ceases!

From how far away came those slurred words, 
like starlight already late, from years back when 
the heavens whirled free before we learned 
they were the cast up glory of ancient wars.

Jolly-roger reckless times those were, 
profane elixir whose dream was 
a ship in a bottle that never braves a storm, 
even as the dark shore grew dim, and farther. 

Decades later this chum became foe.  
And did it well.  Departing, took what he could, 
title and line from this poem, and then 
bloviating accusations, made himself victim.

Yeah, I mentioned the magician who brings 
old letters in new envelopes, history’s 
message disguised, the road beneath the road, 
the hand within the hand, those difficulties...

And now I reclaim my own poem, 
even audaciously use my own words! 
Not much lost when friendship is theft,  
or some blur of memory, mere gloss.

Lifting what lies in deep water exhausts laughter. 
The solitary diver brings up knowledge that 
the ocean is huge, and not personal.  Or, if so, 
inarguable.  Those waves continually recast 

the light in their cradling dark and never 
reveal how deep the Deep keeps its dead.  
And though our sea was prairie fields of wheat, 
that jalopy was already speeding towards rust...


Put him in front of a mirror, 
look for a reflection.
Say go away.  Try to believe in hope.
Put your ear to the ground.  Listen for invaders.
Shout into a cave, capture the echo in a tin can.
Send it to him.
Point to the stars and say:
“This one!”

Open the window.  Say nothing.


Say yes to not say no– get along.
Concord is politic is wisdom.

Agree your enemy is your friend.
Say no injury was done.

Insist murderers aren’t.
Believe no thief stole your hat.

In the conspiracy of lone fact,
you will be called the liar.

(whose barrel is too small)
1.  (patriotism)
He fights the cold war, now that America
believes it has won, but within our shores
the cold remains, that windy room of the street.
Only Germans from Ukraine who died
by Stalin’s hand deserve his rage, only
his ancestors, not those Jews Hitler
dispatched, whose deaths he explains as
“blood washes blood,” because Stalin’s Jews,
he says, killed German Russians first.
Old Testament Talion Law I guess.  The old God
lives, he says, though the chosen people
be chosen to die.  And those two million
we made dead in Viet Nam, who were they?
Or Kissinger's dead of Indonesia?  Or
Monroe's plantation, South America?
His outrage doesn’t rage that far, nor find
his fellow Americans who died killing others
on foreign soil– in that war in Iraq he salutes
while insisting we kiss America’s ground–
though I wonder, would he kiss their graves–
and then sing their praise?

2.  (what my grandfather said)

My German grandfather’s father left his land
for this one to escape the Kaiser’s conscription.
But then drifted loose that poisonous lung-burning gas,
that yellow-green ghost of an Apocalyptic horse,
and the Kaiser and the Tzar tore their nations apart
in that other war before Hitler outlawed breath.
My grandfather fought the Kaiser his father feared.
And later said to me about Viet Nam:
“I wouldn’t fight in that god-damned dirty war!”
My German grandfather Schmidt was no fool,
and could think for himself, no scarecrow
stuck together from rags of old glory,
but a gardener who knew the roots of earth
and cared nothing for nations.  My grandfather
would look Mr. Barrelmaker straight in the eye,
shake his head and walk away.

3. (our nation)
And now
we need here freedom from our own
Caesars and Kings, who begin perpetual wars
of blood for oil, which Mr. Barrelmaker
in good lockstep style salutes, and calls
Abu Ghraib a summer camp, our torture
more pleasant than Stalin's.  Answer me this:
Master über Patriot!  Why is your land of injustice
so far away and why do you ignore the torture
your own nation inflicts, this land of the free
and the brave enduring perennial poor– why
do only Germans from Russia count, and not
my grandfather, those born from the ground
you walk, or anyone born in this world, us all?

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