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Brecht wished for a tiny counting apparatus
to take the place of his heart.
A new matter-of-factness,
generated by a less facile goddess.
I ate my food between slaughters…
It is true: I work for a living
but, believe me, that is a coincidence. Nothing
that I do gives me the right to eat my fill.
He knew that every day
something had to be fixed.
The machine was shuttling along
just fine, they would say, you’re the one
with the problem, hush now.
A great deal of what had been frozen in me
melted in America,
and I rediscovered my old yearning for painting.
I carefully and deliberately destroyed
a part of my past
wrote his friend Grosz
in A Little Yes and a Big No.
The Explosion artist had been to the war
to end all wars, this was before prosthetics
and the V-effect,
when collective subjectivity
One night after returning to Berlin,
he drank too much, lost his footing,
and died from the effects of a staircase.
When you speak of our weaknesses,
Brecht requested, speak also
of the dark time
that you have escaped.
For we could not ourselves be gentle.
Rachel Galvin’s latest books are a collection of poems, Elevated Threat Level (Green Lantern Press, 2018), a work of criticism, News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936-1945 (Oxford UP, 2018), and Decals: Complete Early Poetry of Oliverio Girondo (Open Letter Books, 2018), which she translated from the Spanish with Harris Feinsod. Her other books include Pulleys & Locomotion (poems), Auden at Work (essays co-edited with Bonnie Costello), and Hitting the Streets (a translation from the French of Raymond Queneau), winner of the Scott Moncrieff Prize. She is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago.
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