Heidegger’s Folly & Other Poems

“The Fuhrer…alone
is the past and future
of German reality and
it’s law.”
— Gleichschaltung
(“Bringing into line”)

1.
He was repeatedly
a world-class philosopher —
& ergo, wise & logical —
but it’s an open secret
he dutifully carried out
Hitler’s Gleichschaltung,
“presided over book-burning
and continued to teach, publish
and travel throughout
the Nazi period…”
the while his Jewish colleagues
were being gassed
at Auschwitz.
He calmly drank wine,
ate well
& slept the sleep of the just,
freed of the dreaded knocking
on the door at midnight.
But Hannah Arendt
could only shrug:
“It was an escapade…
a mistake because
tempted to intervene
in the world of human affairs.”
O she was Martin Heidegger’s
campus lover
& could be so forgiving.
“What attracted him
to evil?” the victims ask.
His partisans answer —
“Confront the ‘sage’ himself
and also ourselves!”
Ourselves, too?
That’s too damned easy
a way out,
as if all were
deeply conflicted.
O How evil & madness fascinate!
Jerry Springer,
taking his cue from Freud,
has invested on the dark side
for showbiz.

2.
People were
into it
so Hamza Al-Khateeb, 13,
joined the protest rally.
But he was spotted by security forces
as most vulnerable
& quickly whisked away
until he surfaced
on YouTube
with three bullet holes,
bruises on his body
& shattered kneecaps
that everyone bristled
was classic case of torture.
Now, he silently watches
his uncle & father
talk on television
about being happy
with Asaad’s regime
for three decades now.
But he never shows
neither anger nor shame
as he views the spectacle
from the other side
of the grave.

3.
Early morning
she texts Sissy Spacek’s
consolation:
“As we get older
we are layered and deep,
and hopefully…
wiser.”
Yet he is momentarily
frozen into stone
as if snookered
toward the other side
of the hole…
If only…
yet dreams
repeat themselves
& turn into nightmares,
definitions
redefined to end up
from where they started
in a full cycle
of eternal recurrence:
O who shall comfort
orphans at the edge?
Nothing new, indeed,
under the sun of Ecclesiastes
& we carry on blindly
groping for the hand
on the road.
But the air stays stagnant,
& we stare blankly
at dark spaces,
like sea animals in an aquarium
banging their heads
against the glass wall.

4.
She was sent
to the nearest hospital
for vertigo & vomiting.
On the plane,
he could only mutter,
“Take care, take care,”
never knowing really
what he was saying.
She’s thousands of miles away,
& he could only futilely imagine
how, marooned with two
compatriots in Jakarta,
she could manage.
But she has always been
out in the Pacific rim,
seizing her future moments…
If only his voice
were tendrils of a vine,
even a hand
that could gently rub
“It’s all right, it’s all right.”
But he always gropes for words
when the opportune moment comes.
He blanks out,
like a shell-shocked soldier.

5.
56 unsolved murders
of journalists —
& still counting —
to mark Amnesty International
Impunity Index for 2011.
Enough to raise the hackles
of the virtuous
to renounce two-penny bureaucrats
who rule under the banner
of skulls & bones.
Do they hold the mirror
up to their faces
& see instead Pontiffs & Presidents
impotently reading
Encyclicals & Congressional reports?
Blood keeps flowing
down the street
in a country where word is cheap
& protective of the unborn
who are never real than
the wasted children
who breed & rot
like fruit flies.
Patriarchs debate
but the women
have the answer.

6.
A.
General Mladic
is finally extradited
to Hague
where the International Court
will try him
for killing 8,000 Muslims
at Srebrenica
in the 1995 Bosnian War.
But he points
in the direction of Milosevic
as chiefly responsible
in this game of innocents,
like him & Karadzic…
Hiding for 15 years,
who gave him sanctuary?
He is not without
his fascist horde
(“The Eagle is gone,
but the nest remains”)
who swears by his
angelic innocence.
Imagine Ampatuan, Sr.
who pleaded Not Guilty,
amidst the jeering
of the crowd.
Should the victims no longer talk
about justice,
even claim it?
A loss is irreplaceable.
An eye for an eye,
a tooth for a tooth,
but that is Old Testament
& should not hold!
A bounty on that body
carries the weight of the wind.
The Chilean dictator Pinochet
who died of illness
never got the taste of bullets
that bore holes in Allende,
Jara & thousands of corpses
stacked up like casino cards
at the National Stadium…
How do you even up the score?
Tears, like blood, will always pour.

B.
General Mlavic
finds the Hague Court
“obnoxious”:
he isn’t the guy the judge charges:
he’s no mass murderer.
In his own inner mirror,
he finds an old man
sandwiched between uniformed guards,
frail & uncomprehending.
Who’s this devil they’re talking about?
The children of the Dictator –
feigning innocence,
would insist a father
deserves a hero’s burial.
O was he good a provider
for the family,
but a terror to his countrymen.
As if dictators
are always falsely misunderstood
by the common crowd –
they’re just destiny’s
unheralded knights.
Do we hear the howl
from beyond the unknown graves
of the violated?

7.
Of course,
he is a sad sack,
waiting for no one
as he drinks tea
at the side cafe.
Time was when
he would dream of them
to clear up the miasma
of the day
that drags like a chain
across a cosmic chess board.
They have vanished
like dinosaurs –
off to their Brave New Worlds
& armed with fancy titles
& sinecures,
happy with their lovers
served like instant coffee,
o full of crazy notions
they shall take over
the impregnable castle…
How does he stand up
when the sun sets,
as if hearing a roll call?
He inwardly sniggers,
being the idiot
who failed to play
the game of fools.

8.
The Japanese retirees leave
their senior moments behind
to join the work crew
at Fukushima plant.
They have enlisted to troubleshoot
the leak.
The young recruits are scared shitless
to return to their posts,
claiming they will not commit
seppuku, anyway.
Are the old-timers crazy?
Do they wish to die?
Radiation fallout doesn’t respect
age & gender.
Of course not, says an old woman
with her old expertise.
They had set it up;
they feel responsible
for their children’s future.
(As in Lu Shun’s story
of a town
where cannibals await
the infants’ sacrifice).

9.
A.
Gadhafi is staying put
in the name of the people.
NATO drops bombs
in the name of the people.
& the people die
in their own resurgent name.
The scale is tilted
& the hit list grows longer
every day.
Does the snake devour
its own tail?
& we stay livid in deserted rooms,
mumbling madness
has rained down from the moon.

B.
Libyan children
of school age
clamber down tanks
on full display,
& shouting like their elders,
Revolution!
They don’t know what
they’re yelling –
Did they swim in the pools of blood
in the encounter?
This is fantasy playground
for imaginary generals;
artillery guns
are toys for the Big Boys.

C.
Peace is a break,
between cannon fire.
Then it starts
all over again.
The field is littered
with corpses
.but we shall soon forget
their offal smell
& forge on with our lives.

D.
After the conflict,
there will be a strange silence:
the dead will linger
in the mind,
then blow away
like an ill wind.
How do you even up the score?
Tyrants come & go
through the revolving door.

10.
Australian poet Nora Krouk
remembers her father
“weeping over Voloshin poems,
calling the excesses of revolution
‘a sacred madness of the deprived’.”
It was the betrayal of Stalin
& Bolshevik dreams
that led to the Gulag
& the comrades who hoped vainly
for a way of life to deliver them
into the future…
Roque Dalton,
who was killed by “militaristic
members of the People’s Revolutionary Army”
knew this beautiful madness
that rises from every broken heart,
tortured bodies,
only too well: the wager
that awaits a truthful heart –
this death that is
a warrior’s prize.
So we count the lessons & the losses,
the blood & the tears,
the screams & the whisper
that forces the troubled
to pass the ammunition
& fire.
Sadness, after all, is only a pause
between inhaling & exhaling
in a dangerous life.

11.
“All that remains
is a word through
the silence of the virtuous,”
reads Javier Sicilia
his own poem
for his son, Juan Francisco, 24,
“who was bound and shot
along with six friends
in the city of Cuernavaca.”
It is his last,
he vows.
Has poetry failed him?
Has the word failed to bleed
the blood of poison
that drowns generations
of Mexicans?
“Hasta la madre!”
We have had enough!
He now shouts
as he leads the protest marches
throughout a city
under siege.

12.
But Art must heal!
Isn’t it the real deal?
How possible for the masters’ paintings
to morph into an organic pill
for anyone who lives on nerves.
A patient on a reclining dentist chair
is bombarded with
Monet, Mondigliani, Cezanne
so he could cool down…
Thus, Alexander Malamid,
conceptual painter,
gambles with the power of color
to cure
the bereaved –
A hyperbaric chamber
for city divers in deep bureaucratic
shit.
O Artist as Physician
is an ancient wish!

13.
Umberto Eco
assays in the complex of comm theory,
a code subsumes the message…
On that note,
he isn’t surprised why
his poems will forever fail him:
she has turned into a pillar of air,
& doesn’t speak
the arcane language of lovers’ tribe.
She will not decode.
The alphabet is jumbled, lost
in the labyrinth of metaphors.

14.
A.
They were born seconds apart
92 years ago,
these identical twins
Julian & Adrian Riester
of Buffalo, New York.
Brothers in the Roman Catholic Order
of Friars Minor
they were inseparable.
Both died at St. Anthony Hospital
in St. Petersburg, Florida –
Julian in the morning,
Adrian in the evening.
& he wonders how the latter
felt if also the bells
were tolling for him,
like a convict on death row,
as he awaited,
like some symptomatic cue,
his appointed hour.
\Was he joyful to follow
in his brother’s wake?
Was there love, never fear,
in the spirit of the Eucharist,
as the news filtered in?
The observer remembers his kin
who died in poverty & pain.
They never gave a damn
as if they never existed.
If life is humanly precious,
why can’t he recall
the last moments of the departed:
O Memory
has played –
mercifully? –
its fulsome tricks again.

B.
He didn’t rush to the call
to honor Dante Ambrosio at the chapel.
He couldn’t bear the sight of the mentor
lying stock-still inside the bier.
He used to bump into him
at the school corridor –
there was common bond between him
& Nic who had left earlier.
Last, he appeared sickly & thin,
& friends were raising funds
for his heart surgery…
It isn’t fair
that he should abruptly leave
when his share of historical probing
has yet to be written.
Will this small tribute of a poem
make up for his eternal absence?
Never. Never. Never.
Alas, like all in the obit. column, he will be remembered
only for a flash of a second
by generations that keep moving on.

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