free Herb Brin poetry


Six of Herb Brin's poems are published here:

A Song of Magic

A child with a tear
Sheds a torment for me
His grief tears the heavens apart

Oh I'd bring him a song
To soften his wrong
And a trick
And a trick for a start

For the trace of a smile
I'd tumble a mile
I'd tangle the trees
For a child

And weave for him tales
Of high-flying whales
Of princes
Of kingdoms beguiled

Oh I'd sing him of places
Where monkeys make faces
At rhinos that frolic on air
And I'd pop a balloon
For my friend the baboon
And I'd dance with a laughing bear

A sob and a fear
Would soon disappear
And he'd laugh
At a tipsy giraffe

Or a turtle that sings
Of wondrous things
Or a lion on butterfly wings

Oh child of my heart
Oh child of my heart
Griefs tears the heavens apart.

Dec. 7 1965 In flight to L.A.
From Justice, Justice

Unter den Linden

I saw a changing of the guard
          Unter den Linden
Tall men, bearing guns, presenting arms
Nordic men
About face, stiff, deliberate
Automatons, raising legs
Goosestep Unter den Linden
Again.

It seems I saw a multitude
          Unter den Linden
A master race, men, women
Screaming, chanting, beaming euphoria
Tomorrow will be theirs
And the tomorrows of tomorrow.

The Yellow Star upon the breast
It seemed it was again
          Unter den Linden
Beside die Komische Oper
And Mack the Knife
Cavorting for Jenny
And the black freighter going out to sea
And aboard her
Was me
In an idiot's delight.

I saw Anne Frank Unter den Linden
In a museum for German history
And I alone to contemplate the bronze
For who is there to care
          Unter den Linden
Where legs goosestep their terror
Through my heart
Beneath the Yellow Stars.

Humboldt University sits astride
          Under the Lindens
The same von Humboldt of my childhood pard
Chicago
Where I dreamed idyllic dreams
And attended Talmud Torah
Beside von Humboldt School
Where Jewish childhood danced.
But never mind.

They offer restitution
To make it good again.
German marks for breathless gas
And ovens bearing symbols of Mercedes
Babies rising to the skies on vapored wings.

Restitution?
Give me back my children
From that black freighter
But speak softly now
To me, Unter den Linden.

May 30, 1986 Berlin

I Invented Time

Hold back your clocks
Damn it, no requiem for me!
I'll rust those gears
With the fire spray of seas
That sweep my autumn years.

Crusts of age clog my knees
But I'll get along
At a lesser pace
At a lesser pace.

And softer my sighs
Gentler, more gentle
And as suns descend
I'll get along
It's moonlight saving time
For me.

I've many a mountain yet to climb
And the hot breath of lips on mine
And the touch of tender hips.

Are there promises to keep?
Don't count my ways
Don't count my ways.

The brook, the stream, the massive sea
Hold many mysteries for me
And books unread
And paths untrod
Primeval forests beckon me.

Don't speed my way to dreams undreamed
I've cantatas to create
I've heady lilacs yet to sense
And little foxes to divine.

Take back your clocks
Hold back your clocks
With searing breath of lips
On mine
I invented time.

April 28, 1982 London
From: My Spanish Years

Who is Wise?

Who is wise and who is honored?
He who takes a gentle bride
She who shares his towering dreams
They are wise and the are honored.

Who is wise and who is honored?
He who treasures tenderness
She whose eyes are jeweled stars
They are wise and they are honored.

Who is wise and who is honored?
My won, my son's idyllic vision
His bride, his bride above all rubies
They are wise and they are honored.

Who is wise and who is honored?
He who dreams of fatherhood
She who sighs for motherhood
They are wise and they are honored.

Theirs is love among the honored
Theirs is love beyond the far stars
Send them warm and gentle winds
For they are wise and I am honored.

March 21, 1991
From: On the Rubio

Atop the Rubio

Gone are the songbirds
And the song from my trees
On the mountain atop the Rubio.

The pines are shedding needles
In disarray, forming blankets of thorn
To warm the roots,
Impending storms are chilling
As the life cycles have it.

I am left with crickets in the night
The unrelenting sound of endless, melancholy rasps
From all the shadows of the night
With only a sliver moon to comfort me
In the awesomeness of darks on darks
And a cacophony of sound
Portending the arrival of autumn's winds
In the stark lonesomeness of gusts
Whispering through the brush.

Soon the rains will come
And life exists in burrows on the mountain
While in my tiny home
Nestling on the Rubio
I kindle logs to warm the hearth
And abuse the chill
Of the new season's wintry will.

No longer is the eternal test:
When winter comes for me,
How far is spring?

The control of life cycles
Has not been given me nor thee
If winter comes
When winter comes.

On the Rubio are no forevers
But on the mountain, too, there will be spring
And the beautiful deer, the gentle deer
Will race the butterflies
For the wildflowers and the berries
Dancing colors against a cloudless sky.

And the songbirds will return
To enchant the shadows
And if I am there -- oh, if I am there
I will sing with them, again
And sigh.

Oct. 7, 1991
From: On the Rubio

Song for Odette

There was the time in occupied France when a powerful nation hunted down Jewish children. One was Odette....

I cup my hands
I blow dandelions to the wind
Oh, a tender-touching wind
That fans the face
Like wisps of eyelid upon the cheek
A butterfly kiss.

And away, away they fly
Puffs of dandelion to the sky
High
To the sun
And try as I sigh to shade
The eye
My vision blurs.

Odette
For you this happy song
Of sunshine and dandelion
And a fleckless sky
And Alpine waters tracing
Rivulets
To a child's Riviera of dream.

I must not tell
I must not tell
To take the magic
From this happy song
And blur my eyes with fires
Of memory.

For eyes burn
And tears reveal a hunted child
Oh, hunted, hunted, hunted
Child.

Where to hide the night
Where to hide the day
Where to hide the end of false papers
And false names
And real hungers
And imagined beauties?

Are there not beauties
In the fields of France
Even the German France?

Find a magic meadow
There must be one
I have it on faith there must be one
And gather dandelions
In your cupped hands
And if the wind forsakes
Blow them with your breath
And they will fly away
And they will fly away

Gossamer to the innocence
Of sky
High, to the sun.

Sing, Odette
Sing, Odette
And run!

Jan. 1, 1981 Los Angeles
from Justice, Justice

 

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