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“...And don’t talk to me about ‘the dark times,’ wrote a friend, disgusted by what was happening in the United States and in the world, and everything that had led to it.  Which only made the translation of Brecht’s lines more resonant in my mind…”
—Marilyn Hacker

Ghazal: The Dark Times

Tell us that line again, the thing about the dark times…
“When the dark times come, we will sing about the dark times.”

They’ll always be wrong about peace when they’re wrong about justice…
Were you wrong, were you right, insisting about the dark times?

The traditional fears, the habitual tropes of exclusion
Like ominous menhirs, close into their ring about the dark times.

Naysayers in sequins or tweeds, libertine or ascetic
Find a sensual frisson in what they’d call bling about the dark times.

Some of the young can project themselves into a Marshall Plan future
Where they laugh and link arms, reminiscing about the dark times.

From every spot-lit glitz tower with armed guards around it
Some huckster pronounces his fiats, self-sacralized king, about the dark times.

In a tent, in a queue, near barbed wire, in a shipping container,
Please remember ya akhy, we too know something about the dark times.

Sindbad’s roc, or Ganymede’s eagle, some bird of rapacious ill omen
From bleak skies descends, and wraps an enveloping wing about the dark times.

You come home from your meeting, your clinic, make coffee and look in the mirror
And ask yourself once more what you did to bring about the dark times.

Copyright © 2017 by Marilyn Hacker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Marilyn Hacker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Marilyn Hacker

Marilyn Hacker

Born in New York City on November 27, 1942, Marilyn Hacker was the only child of a working-class Jewish couple, each the first in their families to attend college.

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2
poem
August First: it was a year ago
we drove down from St.-Guilhem-le-Désert
to open the house in St. Guiraud

rented unseen.  I'd stay; you'd go; that's where
our paths diverged.  I'd settle down to work,
you'd start the next month of your Wanderjahr.

I turned the iron key in the rusted lock
(it came, like a
poem

Attention fraying
in late afternoon light, soon
day will be done, not

the work incumbent on it
—whatever that might have been—

Gnarls of an old text
in the other alphabet:
can I unknot them,

reweave mirror fabric of
liminal unravelings?

*

Liminal space