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Poetry Magnum Opus

now I lay me down to sleep


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Careening down the mountain

on the one remaining rail

of the broken railbed,

gathering speed, my arms

spread wide, hunched-up,

tensing for the crash


is when I shudder awake,

many times already,

in this cold white room.


In Hungary, before Trianon,

Nem, nem, soha

life was likened

to licking honey,

to licking sweet honey

from a thorn.


I have seen the future

and don’t want to go there.

Like a reversing van,

a pantechnicon, very

very slowly backing in.




Nem, nem, soha : No, no, never -- the Hungarian rejection of Trianon, the treaty that took away two-thirds of its land and people after the Austro-Hungarian army was defeated in the Great War.

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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I think this is a perfect poem, Brendan. From the way the first verse glides into the second, to the way you introduce the treaty, to the moving van metaphor at the end, the presentation is fluid. There's not too much, not too little; it's right there. The treaty that affected my own family a couple of decades later was the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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I've been told three times already (on another list) that this is two poems and that the parts don't hang together. I know instinctively this is wrong, since the thoughts are inextricably linked, but there's not much you can do when people TELL you how to write poetry! The Nazi-Soviet pact was cynical in the extreme. Historians say that Stalin was simply buying time but I don't believe that. He was delighted to carve up Poland and the Baltic states and even launched an invasion of Finland. He was genuinely shocked and surprised when Hitler invaded Russia in June of 1941, even after repeated warnings from the Brits who had cracked the German military codes (thanks to the Poles)!

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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