Big Bridge #10

An Open Letter to America


Jack Hirschman


The Beslan Arcane


We put a bullet in the back of everything in Beslan
to make jew
of all Russia. Chechnya too.

The meaning of existence is a child studying.
But theirs have been murdered for years
without even knowing

the inside of a school-room, let alone an alphabet.
And ours have a future wide-open to
dead porn.
I light another Primo Nostalgia I pour another
Stolichnaya. We don’t just continue to
survive, we pervade

and possess, with soft mush above the eyes, and pain
below that rises to the thighs of the mind
with little lightning-stabs,

reminding that the price of burying us with trash
in the dumpster of history isn’t simply

but atrocity and the crimes our enemy’s executed
over our dead body ever since it was born.
And what remains

are these emergencies of killing and breakdown
that make sirens everywhere wail
the alarms that save,


We pass now through your blood and come out
the other side of sorrow this month of
mourning the tiny bones.

We know there are no poems left in God, and all
we want as well is to no longer be, to
not exist, infinitely.

The eyes we had are full of filth, the ears we had
are deaf, and the only theory’s
in the belly-laugh

at a dirty joke around a table. Say what you will;
after all, will will will itself
beyond anyone’s words.

Alyosha dreams his son Zoma’s dead and he and
his mother are walking. They pass an
African woman delivering mail.

Alyosha reaches out, takes her hand. She takes his.
Mother walks ahead. They walk a little
‘til Mother turns

and comes back toward him. The African disappears.
Volodya dreams he goes looking for
what he doesn’t know,

naked to the waist save for his red suspenders. There
are young women and men seated
on couches and on

the floor watching a film on television. Volodya wants
one of the young women. Then his wife
appears behind him

full of grief. He realizes he’s become sexually crazy
because his son Yuri’s died and he doesn’t
know how to feel

life anymore. Only to make him again inside a woman’s---
any woman’s---body. O world, we no longer
have what to do!


Natasha was a child who
ran full of laughter.
Natasha was a child who lived for today.

Her eyes full of sunshine,
her heart full of smiles.
Natasha was a child for a day.
Not to be in order to be
with them, so that this shanda of surviving
no longer dominates.

Not to live another instant
without those we’ve lived for.
That’s the truth, though

not the truth we want.
We want vodka, thighs, blind lights.
And what’s to be done?

Hang the killers from trees
when we are killers as well?
Pick up a hammer?

Lift a sickle? Pound their faces?
Slice off their arms?
Lop off their legs?

Shoot them in the back?
Make them drink urine
like they did the kids?

This moment we have,
this unspeakable monster
of a human moment,

we have to speak through,
even with grieving silences,
to what we all have now:

this only, only this little
moment with its belittling
guilt that wants

only to die and be!
For Death is our comrade,
we shall not wait.

In all we do hereafter
she will run before us,
we will run after her.

She will turn and laugh
the squeal of fearful delight,
and we will catch her up

in our arms and die of the joy
of kissing her cheeks, her brow,
her nose, her eyes forever.