I really love you, believe me…

Sheltering-in-place #1


Attila Jozsef, (1905 -1937) Hungarian Poet

                       I really love you,
believe me.  It is something I inherited
from my mother.
She was a good woman.  After all,
she was the one who brought me
into this world.

                    We may compare life
to a shoe, or a laundromat,
or whatever.
Nonetheless, we love it
for reasons of our own.

                     Saviours, there are
enough of them to save the world

three times a day and still nobody knows
how to light a match.  I’ll have to give up
on them.

                     It would be nice
to buy tickets for a trip to the
self.  It must be somewhere inside us.

                    Every morning I wash 
my thoughts
in cold water.
That way they come out fresh as a daisy.

                     Diamonds can sprout
good warm songs,
if you plant them under your heart.

                    Some people will stay
pedestrians no matter what they ride,

horse, car or airplane.

                    Me, I just lie around
in the morning song of larks
and still make it over the abyss.

                    Let us carefully save our
true souls
like our best suit of clothes
to keep them spotless for the days of

(translated from Hungarian: John Batki)


While sheltering-in-place, locked down, or cocooning, I have taken to reading poems with breaks to look at the growing numbers.  As of yesterday there were more than a million who are suffering or had suffered from coronavirus and the United States has a quarter of those.

I have nothing worth saying about the barbarous behavior of our government but I thought sharing poems might be a comfort.

This poem comes from Carolyn Forche’s Against Forgetting, Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness.  Forche tells us that when Attila Jozsef’s first poems were published in 1922, he was tried for blasphemy. This poem was written near the end of his life.

I will be back with more poems in this time of plague.

San Francisco, 3 April 2020