Monday, April 3, 2017

Circle of Time

I used to recognize Europe
Of course not every country was the same
When I first went there were deutschmarks, francs, lire
Bread was the common currency: we bought it everywhere
And walked down the street eating it out of sacks like cotton candy
All of the old stuff was new to me
Together we discovered the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, a corner of a cathedral
Where an organist practiced
If hard-pressed I would have to admit
That the grass there was the same green
And the same sky
But in my imagination if felt like different sunlight,
Even the graffiti was different, more exotic
Once there, I always longed to return

Since I first visited there was a union, a coming
Together of jigsaw countries, the map re-arranged
The bread varied from place to place, but it was still incredible
Language became the invisible border, separating
Yet folks mostly understood each other
We went over five or six times, never getting enough
It became a solace for my soul during the Bush-Abu Greb years
A place where Human Rights mattered, where
In the squares protestors gathered at lunch to collect
signatures: against capital punishment, solitary confinement, torture
In general Europe seemed far more advanced, vastly more
Civilized compared to America and its wars

But I’m beginning to wonder: Is Europe different now?
The sunlight has shifted into shadow
What about all the stray dogs, sleeping cats
Will they become afraid? Move away?
Move to the right, the left? Jump a boat to Tunisia?
And what about the Great War, the War to End all Wars—
And the Second World War, will there be a new crusade?
In a future alliance where will America stand? Perhaps
Against Germany and with Turkey? And will the US and Russia fight
On the same side once again.
Why are we back here again?
Back to a broken geography, to nationalism, fascism,
Absolute rule, class wars, oligarchs, machine guns
In the parks, stay off the grass.
In Bruges was a black comedy about hit men
Upsetting everyday fairy-tale life
And now that life is a black comedy, every day
There are hit men.

Was it really only 15 years ago we first visited Europe—and now
It is tearing itself apart, and we, America

Are facing our own identity crisis


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