Author’s note: These poems began as an ekphrastic response to the German Expressionist painter, Franz Marc. Marc sent many painted postcards to his friends. These are addressed to Else Lasker Schular, a poet, dancer, novelist, dramatist, and all-around bohemian who Marc and his wife befriended. Marc was stationed near Verdun, France where nearly 1 million soldiers died. He and Wassily Kandinsky co-founded the Blue Rider movement. Marc died on March 4 1916.
These horses have been gone
from the Americas more years than we can know, or imagine,
but they were restocked
from Spain. They are yours
to harbor and celebrate.
Their faith in life is yours,
and ours. We wish you
and your mother a happier life
beyond the red woods
of the present madness.
And this defiant month.
Uncle and Aunt Marc
there is a world outside the divine.
Beyond now and outside the sun.
I know you have been there.
And I know you know I have not.
But, sister, daughter perhaps,
you are ours; even in silence
we hear your heart. We know
you are near. Leaving your cave
is not a sickness, not a dream
you will forget. Our love extends
beyond this letter, and well beyond
this century and its bitter edges.
Our stony hill in Sindelsdorf
awaits your dreams.
Our sturdy friend admires
your persistence and strength,
the way you move this world
and the long night that follows.
We also congratulate you
on your new book, and hope
you are in good health and fearless.
Mareia worries that the groundfloor
dampness of your new place
will be unhealthy. I also wonder.
We both worry. You are surprised?
We always worry about you
and wish, like our subscription
to Die Aktion, that you will always
arrive safely. Until then
we remain yours.
Your blue children respond to the Lemon Horse and Fiery Ox
We are happy here among the foothills
of this truculent land. Happier still
to have heard news of your improving health.
Good news for once Else like an early mist
drifting across Sindelsdorf. No odd-shaped clouds
promising sleep, or imagined into beasts.
The few stars look down at a future horizon,
their dim light unwelcome at the darkening edge,
wondering why, why doesn’t it take your hand
in such slender light?
Last night the moon laughed bravely across a gravid sky. Its light yielded ease to shadow and silence.
King Abigail’s Horse
The play horse awakens,
looking over its shoulder
for your son, Paul. The day’s
new weight begin
with the strong eye
assessing what was left
behind, flaming, or unseen
in the pinewoods of Grunewald
where you were wise as a crow
and netted a constellation of hope.
We bow to King Abigail’s
brilliant childhood, and wish him
and his sparkling diamond mother
safe passage as sun pulls free
from the anchor clouds.
Our best to you and Paul
from the sturdy walls of Sindelsdorf.
FM & MM
The Prince of Thebes wakes the Holy Calf
A great day, to be sure.
You woke to your new throne,
your royal destiny foretold.
And found sleeping
in the palace gardens
a sacred calf the color
of a newborn heart.
Your faith in us
is a garden we walk daily
delighting in each new bloom.
The War Horse of Prince Jussuf
Watch as the war horse,
your warhorse, watchful
and fearless dear Prince,
accepts the challenges
of those who test your good
faith and whose arrows of
anger, envy and cruelty are
deflected. Many watch over
you. The blue horses always.
And others who shall appear
when needed, when your heart
remains undiscovered, and
unbruised. Our love for you
and your son remains yours
Beneath one monkey’s face,
below one world’s frown lying in wait, a man stands beside a woman
and a yellow dog asleep in snow;
unconcerned with the water
that turns the mill-wheel’s
persistent path. Or the shallows
where the doe & fawn take turns
drinking from the rushing water.
We cannot reduce ourselves
to their silly games. We must accept that many are hard-hearted and do not need us. Our criesare not their spilled wine. We are the Others who exist beyond their stupidity. We are a passion, a style they don’t deserve, or will need in their savageness. The god of the wild, music and hunting, and loneliness is not our compatriot.
He doesn’t trust us with his honey,
with his flowers. But we are beautiful. Secure your heart with
Three Animals on the Blue Mountain
The animals have gathered
in your absence,
and asked Mareia and I
how you are doing.
Why we had not heard from you.
All we could say in your defense
in the absence of your crescent
and flaming stars
was what we believed:
you were doing better
and Paul was becoming a man.
We await the lightning
of your next illuminating letter.
Yours, The Prince of Cana
and his Princess Mareia
Fox and Gazelle
Circumstances are not always
what they seem. We both have suffered
that tempting delusion. It is
dear good Sister one of the reasons
we love you and survive
in this burning world. Mareia and I
wish you were closer; we truly wish
you were here with us and not in Berlin.
But you are and we are not, and there is
nothing to be done about that.
Those who come between, who seem
to offer pain and gloom as life
are not like us, not your friends.
We always look forward to your lively
presence in our lives, in letter
and in the rare, rarer times
when we are together.
Your sometimes lost brother, Franz
and sister Mareia
Poems from this MS have appeared in 2River View, Repurposed Magazine, Clade Song, Sheila-na-gig, Adelaide, Conjunctions, Aberration Landscape, Birmingham Arts Journal, and Allegro.
The author lives in Baltimore City where he volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, and acts as the Archivist-at-large for a Jesuit College founded in 1830. He is the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press).
His poetry has previously appeared in Underfoot here.