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The Public Gardens of Munich, 1986


ISSUE:  Summer 1988

 

The park benches, of course, are ex-Nazis.
They supported the ass of the SS
without questioning; the old stamp “Juden Verboten”
has been painted out.
The only signs of World War II, photographs. ,
displayed at the classical Greek museum,
show its roof bombed, now handsomely repaired,
although the sculpture itself has been overcleaned
by a very rough hand.

But the flowers are the children of other flowers,
the hypocrite roses and the lying begonias,
part of gardens so sentimental, so ordered,
they have nothing to say about freedom and beauty,
nothing to say about the burning bush.
They should see the flowers on the hills of Judea,
pushing between limestone and gypsum, ordinary
beautiful flowers with useful Hebrew names,
useful to children, old people, everyone,
their colors and grace, the poetry of them,
page after page.

The saying goes in the steets of Munich:
“Wear a good overcoat.” Everyone knows,
you can put a dead body under a handkerchief.
Every handkerchief’s a grave,
that’s why so many gentlemen wear clean handkerchiefs
in their breast pockets. For the ladies, lace gloves
serve the same purpose—blue handkerchiefs, pink gloves,
green, lavender, und so weiter, are symbolic
—but you have to really know, —white for Jew,
blue for Jew, green for Polack, pink for
—you’d better watch out, a little joke.

It follows from those who are flowers,
the children of flowers, and from what is happening
these days to the Schwartzwald, there would
and should be a political party
called “the Greens,” expressing a real desire
of many people to have clean rain.

A man can hide under his shirt
flowers made by metal and fire, stems cut,
neck wounds, missing bone, history
of generations, new branches grafted
onto old stumps.

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