poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

poetic forms

About this Poem 

“...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.

by this poet

poem


                                   For Sára Karig

"You are so wise," the reindeer said, "you can bind the winds of the world in a single strand."
                                     H. C. Andersen, "The Snow Queen"

She could bind the world's winds in a single strand.

poem
We pace each other for a long time.
I packed my anger with the beef jerky.
You are the baby on the mountain. I am 
in a cold stream where I led you.

I packed my anger with the beef jerky.
You are the woman sticking her tongue out 
in a cold stream where I led you.
You are the woman with spring water palms.

You
poem

Wine again. The downside of any evening’s
bright exchanges, scribbled with retribution :
stark awake, a tic throbs in the left temple’s
site of bombardment.

Tortured syntax, thorned thoughts, vocabulary
like a forest littered with unexploded
cluster bombs, no exit except
2