War and Peace (Red Fog / Green Shoots)

War and Peace

I.

Red Fog

Red fog rose
from the bloody river
when Baghdad’s proud walls
crumbled to dust.

The sobbing, the gasping
rose with the fog,
scratched the blank sky
till it wept blood.

High soared the blinking blades,
higher the cries of triumph,
down on the broken timber,
the toys forlorn in the ash.

Red ran the Tigris,
bearing pots and books and bodies
down through the desert,
frayed crimson silk.

Decorative brick with symmetrical floral motiv, deeply incised.

II.

Green Shoots

Green shoots, vibrant,
blue buds, brilliant,
climbing the trellis
of ten thousand tiles.

The tall white walls,
the wide white courtyards,
the shimmering basins:
those were the flags of peace.

Not the carpets of ash
which the conquest leaves,
nor the polished parchment
where the truce is signed.

Peace is the pomegranate
in the smooth wooden bowl,
peace is the spinning-top
on the deep-green glaze.

Christina Egan © 2003 (I) / © 2018 (II)

These poems were inspired by the massacre of 1248 when the Mongols took Baghdad, but they can be applied to any war Mesopotamia has seen in the course of the millennia, or indeed to any other part of the world…

Brick from Baghdad, mid-13 century. Photograph: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Brown Butterfly / Brauner Schmetterling

Brown Butterfly

 

Found, found on sandy ground:
bronze brooch from an unknown age,
bright map of an unknown land,
O quivering flower,
brown butterfly!
Where have you flown…?
Little butterfly,
your mirroring wings
are dust lifted up from the earth
and assembled to beauty of heaven.
Grace, grace beyond a name.

Bright admiral butterfly, maroon with 'eyes', on purple cone of flowers.

 Brauner Schmetterling

 

Gefunden auf sandigem Grund:
Bronzebrosche verlorener Zeiten,
bunte Karte ferner Gefilde.
Du erbebende Blume,
du bräunliche!
Wo flogst du hin…?
Schmetterling,
deine Spiegelbildflügel
sind Staub, der Erde enthoben,
gesammelt zu Himmelsschimmer.
Anmut, namenlose Anmut.

Huge tropical flower, orange and wide open, with human hand for comparison.

The shape of the poems — and their
colour — emulate those of a  butterfly.

English poem: Christina Egan © 2005. 
German poem: Christina Egan © 2017.
Photographs: Christina Egan © 2013.

Tranquil Dragon

Tranquil Dragon

Embroidered with orange lights
are the fanned steel wings of the bridge

suspended in the summer night,
a tranquil dragon bringing luck. 

Wide is the night and warm,
like the dark wine of old and ardent love.

The sky reads the low, slow river
as my eye reads yours in a dream.

Sparkling with lights is the city,
sparkling with lights is my soul.

Christina Egan © 2003


Dragons, of course, are noble and bring luck in Chinese mythology.

I must have been thinking of Hammersmith Bridge in London.

You can read more poems about suspension bridges at On the Orange Bridge (San Francisco) and Rosenquarzkammern (Malmö).

August Night / Nur Asche zu essen

August Night

The night is short and moist and sweet,
with secret sprouting life replete…
and stark and bitter all the same.

There is no peace on golden wings,
there is no peace from silver limbs…
only a tiny steady flame.

Christina Egan © 2012


In the midst of abundant midsummer,
the narrator has not found peace — neither
through prayer or meditation nor through
the presence of a beloved person.

The following poem laments the unborn dead,
whose graves are nameless and forgotten and
who never saw the light of the sun although
angels may have taken them elsewhere…


Nur Asche zu essen

Nur Asche zu essen,
nur Lehm statt Brot,
nur Erde zu wissen:
der bitterste Tod.

Den Leib ohne Atem,
das Aug ohne Licht,
das Grab ohne Namen:
das schärfste Gericht.

Die niemals Gebornen,
fast ohne Gewicht,
von Engeln Verborgnen:
Vergesset sie nicht.

Christina Egan © 2018

free-range (mails and messages)

Same text again, set as if written by a typewriter and framed as if forming a computer screen.

free-range


mails and messages and more moving across the screen with
flashing offers and tickers with freshly baked news and
more mails and messages from fresh friends and flickering
fake facts and friends’ fake faces and fake friends’ faces
and updated offers with mute music and lyrics of true love
for globalised consumers and certified free-range chickens
in the multiple-award multilateral information gain game
and upgraded offers of true love and reminders to join in
the flash mob on times square please click here to request
your rights and download the rest of the revolution now


Christina Egan © 2017

A Patterned Carpet

Silk cloth dominated by vivid pinks and greens.A Patterned Carpet
(July Tanka)

A patterned carpet,
the city is unrolling
between the bus stops…
I roll it up in my eye
and send it on to a friend.

*

Fountain in round basin in park, flanked by large flowerpots

Clouds, high in the sky,
saturated with sunshine,
rapidly drifting –
like currents across oceans,
like thoughts across continents.

Christina Egan © 2012

 

 

The idea of the big city as a woven carpet is  also pursued in the German poem Geflechte.

Photographs: Silk cloth from Madagascar. © The Trustees of the British Museum. — Schloßgarten Fulda. Christina Egan © 2014.

Lilac and Lime

Lilac and Lime

Vase with small but very bright flowers, mainly raspberry-pink and lemon-yellow, like fireworks, against turquoise table and turquoise sheet.It is coming at last! With the singing wood
of luminous lutes, with trumpets and drums,
in garments and feathers of lilac and lime,
of honey and rose, with stately stride,
with canter and caper, the pageant of summer
is wending its way and filling the valley
with birds and butterflies, blossom and breeze.

Christina Egan © 2008

Little tree with apple-green leaves in a park in average summerly green

For a German poem about the pageant of summer, see geh aus mein herz.

 

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2013 / © 2014.