Electrosmog lights up the smoke, out of order, out of time, like a poem moved by dilemmas for its own sake, but no easy kinship for the desolate sweep. Stephen Spender gets out his Poems of 1933. It is inscribed as an oracle "For Horst Keller as a souvenir of Oxford London Berlin from Stephen Spender / March 11, 1933." Spender writes in his Journal "I met [Horst] on the Hook of Holland boat once, shortly before Hitler’s rise to power," twelve days after the Reichstag fire (27 Feb 1933).
Fast forward to the Colorado late at night, edge of a lunar eclipse, Halloween with fires, rooftops aflame amid calls on civilization to surrender to what it does not believe, that bizarre Earth burrowers, mole prophets claim. Who can understand an illiterate analogy of seventy five postwar German years to manufacture American peace? Time, upset by its recurrence, brings Weimar out of the smoke with the same "unhappy, pained, gentle creatures who represent the heart of another Germany, and do not understand what is happening to them… peculiar whiteness and stillness of their eyes which seem to have been drained of pigment…How closely I press upon a secret! Why am I always attracted by these desolate spirits?" (Stephen Spender, Journals, 1939-1983, 30).
Which do you prefer, 20th century prewar Germany or 21st century prewar America? Stephen says, Watch the hawk with an indifferent eye, that almost won War on the sun until the hands, wings, are found (Poems, 1933, 11). As if it were the best of all possible worlds with the Trojan Horse outside the gate, Leviathan come to land, we find the eyes and hands, and then the tongue.
Hitler's "rise" ended in March 1933 after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933. President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after elections and intrigues. Then Hitler used The Enabling Act to constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection.
Spender says, "Horst was the son of a general. And now at least four names crowd on to me I remember. Many are aristocrats and often close to the higher ranks of the army. This boy called Horst had a round face with very well-formed features, delicate lips, light blue eye, and brown hair of an almost feathery lightness. He was very quiet and polite and he had some small, out-of-the-way interest – playing the flute or making musical instruments or something. There’s really nothing much more to it than that. He had a scholarship at Oxford and I used to call on him there; we went for walks and I introduced him to Isaiah Berlin. But he never in the least became part of the life at Oxford...one of those unhappy, pained, gentle creatures who represent the heart of another Germany, and do not understand what is happening to them. I have touched a deeper chord than I knew here, for Have I not met two or three? Didn't I know very well the peculiar whiteness and stillness of their eyes which seem to have been drained of pigment? These poor ghosts are really beautiful in a sexless way, because, if one is a young man of another country, an exile in one's own, one cannot expect to be virile. How closely I press upon a secret! Way am I always attracted by these desolate spirits?" (Journal. 1985, 30)
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DARRIN SET THE CRUISE control at seventy-five and planted the wheel against his leg. The half-sheet of yellow paper glared in the sun through the tinted windows of the Oldsmobile. He had crumpled it and stuffed it in his shirt pocket without reading it initially, and now flattened it out against the hub. Retiremint, Konnie had scrawled. He glanced up at I-40 intermittently. How could he have married someone who couldn’t spell? A list followed: concrete bird feeder, plaster giraffe, framed glamour portrait, a family bible, complete with an aristocratic appearing tree, penciled upon the inner cover. All innocuous objects, punctuated here and there with the outrageous: Another five hundred in alimony, his Weatherby 375, an illegal change in tax status. He opened his wallet, flipping through the clear plastic accordion to the only photograph, a radiant brunette holding a toddler in bib and cap. The boy stared into the camera like a physicist watching an experiment, knowing the outcome beforehand. He tugged at the edge of the photo, spreading the plastic till it popped free. A layer of the emulsion tore loose, and her smile, a sardonic little smudge of crimson, remained in the plastic sleeve. It had always been painted on. His entire dream had been in the end, a carefully engineered lie.
Poem of the Week
who have experienced
on a large
i tell raif
i think my
might be dead
haven't seen her
& her car hasn't moved
for two weeks.
you would smell it
passing me a plate
of triangular shaped bread
slathered in jam.
Story of the Week
DARLEEN SQUEELED into the empty spot as soon as the gleaming white Mercedes pulled out. "We got lucky," she told Montana. "Even on a Monday night, this lot is killer."
Montana rolled her big blue eyes. "Whatever."
The eleven year old had better things to do, like text her friends. Incessantly, as if she had a tic. The kid hadn't wanted to shop tonight, but Darleen insisted. This was their first Christmas without Paulie and the girls needed to stick together. Darleen's ex had been nasty lately and mediation had hit a cement wall. Montana wasn't aware how dangerously close they were to losing access to Paulie's vast and unreported wealth.
Montana sighed dramatically as she yanked open the door of the Porsche Cayenne and tumbled out. She didn't pause in her texting.
Darlene checked her face in the rearview mirror. The most recent fat transfer had been wildly successful. She loved her new lips. Grabbing her Gucci bag, she hopped out of the front seat.
Her daughter trailed her into the mall, thumbs flashing on her phone keypad.
Graphic of the Week
A few minutes later the cabin drew into view. Rough gray weather beaten boards, a tin roof. Heavy plank door and two windows that shuttered from the inside. There was a small porch covered by a tin-framed awning. The wind had blown one corner post loose,