poems by Jeremy Nathan Marks

Hotel Dum

What’s sacred when the Thing is all the universe? –Allen Ginsberg (“The Reply”)


I rode a tram on my own

from the Hotel Dum into Old



Walked from Karol Bridge

to hear Dvořák played in a church



Jan Hess received a rainbow

sign. It was a sermon quite a far cry



More recent heresies like sitting

with Velvet Revolutionaries watching

Largo Desolato 


Or thumbing through Letter To

Father over 50 cent beer in drear March

making cock jokes




About that tower in Petrin Park.

Yes, we were the ones they whispered

about that


Stalk the Old Jewish Cemetery

and plot to become King of the May

flaunting our ways


But what powers do we have

really save speaking a dullard’s tongue

which everyone


Understands save the Americans

who export their grammar on wrappers

and packets of


Fishermans Friend. TM. I kept some

of that in my knotted coat pockets while

trailing tight-hipped


Companions on my trip –if only more

had happened- never so handsome a man

as one alone with



His imagination. Listening to Dylan

Reading Sandburg in Poland then Prague.

Speaking slowly


As though I had arrived from St. Paul

with St. Anthony in tow. It took a dear friend,

a Czech patriot


To prise the Red dictionary from my

hand and say you are a communard soliciting

bankers for cash


They speak commerce not poetry.

Escrow not authenticity. Teen angst? Sure.

What’s its return?


Consider instead what the Rabbi once

said: first fill your home with a gaggle of goats

and asses before


Assessing your own madness.






. . . and when I touched my head I could feel the arched skull of my country, its hard edge. –Adam Zagajewski (“Fire”)


I came into Oświęcim

by all-night overland from

Poniatowo. It was a journey

I could not pronounce. Warsaw

is a furnace when the sun rises at

three-thirty a.m. Kielce, Katowice,

Kraków and then at last the banks of

the Vistula


When I opened my eyes

I thought that I caught that

familiar sight of breakers off

of Hatteras Island. Looking past

the headland light into the sea where

bodies of horses are buried beside slave

memories and a rum gentility I found this


Severed cord

whose fag-end floated

like a Man-of-War on the swells;

it was joined to a cable layer bounding

east, heading right into a fog bank.


St. Louis lies

these steamship lines

that join the continental

railways when they deliver

their freight right up to Birkenau Gate.

I know, I’ve seen it like I saw horses walk

the gang plank.


Oświęcim is a Graveyard of the Atlantic

with its broken timber and solid

Farben chimneys everywhere

resting as stolid reminder

through snow pash and

rain pistol that all of

Europe was a





It was April.

I heard no birds

amid skeletal poplars

and a wan sun that could

have been from pollution


And can you hum a tune

to the Kiddish HaShem

O Jerusalem?


April macht die Arbeit

along the bows of




Somewhere I know there is

floating a photo of this young

man in his kippah

tentative, kneeling on a

tie with pebbles in

his hand


Where should he place them-

poems by Jeremy Nathan Marks

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