Two poems performed at SAVAGE SHOWCASE by SOPHIE NEVRKLA.
My mind glows, a furnace of thoughts.
The phone burns my ear, scorched by the news,
and the silence burns too – unfair, unjust,
silence is a golden cancer – it is a fat Nazi oven –
roasting me, cooking me raw: fatted calf.
Outside, the January trees blow blue –
smudges of ink on a thin paper sky;
a first draft of a letter, crumpled and sad.
The streetlights stare – bright, strict and sorry.
My tears are red. They come, unwelcome
swarms of them – demanding, angry –
insurgent army with Bolshevik speed,
my face the battlefield – yet to be won.
I slice the white street, surgeon’s incision.
My feet are efficient, mechanical.
Footprints leave a trail of blood in my
wake and god looks down, angry doctor, scalpel in hand.
I ignore the red man – stiff little soldier.
My road is the funeral march – I proceed.
The house hides in the corner, flaming, blazing –
mayday signal, stock-still stop sign for me.
The crossed plague door opens, a man waiting.
Scarlet seeps from his pores
and the vermillion boy chokes on his words and holds on to me tight –
a family of red, family of blood.
And then the red of my mother’s new scarf.
A deep, velvet, claret warning.
That scarf: a cut – a target – a noose –
a red noose, round my mother’s red neck.
What of my father’s father?
In my mind’s eye, all I can see is a
ghost on a postcard: a man in black
on a Kaiser’s horse, somewhere in that
tug-of-war land squashed into the
tightest spot in Europe – a country forced
to look up in humble supplication.
“Pick on someone your own size!” I want to
say to Germany, Austria and Russia, the
bullies in the playground, scoping out the runt.
“What brought his son here?” I wonder, as he
pours me coffee at the breakfast table
and makes me beans on toast.