After Huchel


                            “Der Garten des Theophrast”



A long time ago, in a galaxy far away,

a stream that has cut a narrow valley

revives, with day-long rain in a secular drought,

and gamely continues towards the sea. 

It knows its few infrequent inches

will not create the vertiginous

canyon it wants before the rising

ocean and a tilting continent

absorb its efforts, but it does its best.

The path above it, prostrate in the heat,

welcomes the shade of current leaves

above precedent leaves becoming dust,

the structural terror of a scampering

mammal-equivalent, and the steps

of poets heading to a conference.

In a tea-house floating over the valley,

Lord Vader addresses them about

his usual topic, the Dark Side,

this time in relation to art.

Applause is loud but discussion

brief, for he must fly to take the surrender

of another disillusioned group of rebels.

Left alone, the poets fall to murdering

deceased or uninvited reputations.

The phrase, “There’s less in him than meets the eye,”

ignites, however, querulous debate:

“That’s such a mysterious idea … What is

that ‘less’?  How known?  What then

would ‘more’ consist of?”  A beloved,

at least a not-yet-savaged eminence

rouses itself: “I often find it

wise to refuse a connotation.

For example, the word ‘secular’

might inversely suggest the sacred,

but I use it only to mean ‘lasting.’”

A younger talent, squirming in his robes,

his face impassive, thinks

of empty-headedness and Empire.

At dusk, favored participants

read. A noted writer of love-poems

to someone finally as faceless

as Darth Vader, mumbles, sullenly transported;

a platonist essays the theme of Transience.





My dislike of nature has passed the bounds of reason.

In the skim-milk light of 6 AM,

windows open

for “air,” the humidity

pretends to be connected to life,

as blandly benign as the name of a right-wing party.

Some torturers start slow

and polite. But by noon

it has doffed its black jacket or white labcoat

and is as dirty as those it torments.


Long before the disaster, many people,

not just sensitive ones, wondered

if the world would survive them.

(Some hoped, some feared.) I have to get out,

and walk beside the new shore.

In the surf, amidst crap,

something flops – the tentacled

football Wells imagined

thirty million years hence, in The Time Machine.

It’s probably hungry, and capable of evolving,

and I hate it deeply and hobble off.

If I thought the earth would end with me,

would I think great thoughts? But why should

that terminus be unusual?

We are born in terror and die drugged.

Intimations of Childhood from Recollections of Early Immortality


I remember my meltdowns

as thoughts. Tears, screams, etc.

reflected the disquieting

existential coldness

of those thoughts. They represented

a rebellion of the body

against the mind as much as against conditions.


Scissors with rounded points,

drying tubs of paste and crusted paint,

gold stars, patriotic images,

and charts of well-formed cursive – all

those deadly pre-electronic

traps were already

the past, I knew, and inappropriate.


The most uncomfortable

aspect, however, was a sense

or confused view of myself,

largely disembodied

at a desk somewhere, firming up

the above distinctions, sitting

for hours, cutting and pasting.

© Mike Kravolich

Copyright © 2016, Otis Nebula Press. All rights reserved.


Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, both published by Story Line Press, and a collection of shorter poems, A Poverty Of Words, from Prolific Press. His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), Bateau, Main Street Rag, Fulcrum, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Thunderdome, etc. He is an adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University.