One day my children, who’ve yet to be born
And the sweet music that rose in my chest
Will walk the grave of I, who’ve yet to pass on
And my bones, once again, will be blessed.
The angels that in their time grazed my lips
The cheerful hands that wiped apples and tears
Will leave gentle marks in air that I kissed
And in the fine dust that fell on our stairs.
The doors we painted, each a tint of scarlet
Will turn grey, and in the garden, the dew
Will fall on leaves, amber, maroon and garnet
Inside the small rectangle of my view
Where drawings drift of a hundred new worlds
Of matchstick men in hats, mittens and pearls.
The day our enemy said he would darken our way
Fall was splendid, it was summer almost
I boarded a train for the Chesapeake Bay
My scarf fell, my sadness, and also my coat
They had declared our capital the next to quiver
Not short of breath, nor short of will
I crossed, ‘cause I could, the Potomac River
And walked the bittersweet Arlington hills
I came from afar; I wasn’t born on this shore
Of loud thunder and keen voices calling
Yet here lies the father of my mother-in-law
In the white ocean, the stones of the fallen
I stand there alone by Kennedy’s tomb
Where magnolias, imperfection and oak branches loom
Somehow I always have to get on a plane immediately after major terror events. Two days after 9/11 I was bound for Sarajevo. When the Germanwings pilot crashed his plane into a mountainside near Seyne-les-Alpes, I was leaving for San Francisco. Our pilot greeted us outside the cockpit and even offered me to come in and see for myself. He wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t nuts, but how do we detect “nuts”? (The Germanwings pilot, may his name forever be forgotten, had left his iPad at home, a clear indication of suicidal intensions.)
Yesterday – the day after Paris – I arrived in New York via Gatwick where the North Terminal had been evacuated after the discovery of a gun in a suitcase. My little sister was worried about me traveling, but planes are no longer the main targets. We all are.
The newspapers write about how “sophisticated” and “advanced” an attack we just witnessed in Paris, but the truth is that they are more than manageable. From a military perspective, it’s a simple operation. And raids like this become a walk in the park when you don’t need an escape route. It’s not hard to find the rookies who will wear the west. Nor is funding, crossing the borders or obtaining the weapons. The hard part is keeping the plan a secret among the young and, usually, not too bright foot soldiers, and not to be detected by Western intelligence communities (who, in my opinion, are doing an excellent job).
It’s quiet in America this Sunday morning. Our president is thinking hard about what to do, as he should be. He is talking to our old European allies. I wonder if, by now, a large-scale invasion is inevitable, unless, of course, we prefer being sitting ducks. We can’t tricolorize our way out of this. The current mess was, in part (but far from entirely), instigated by Blair, Bush & Friends. Say what you will about Saddam and Gaddafi and that bunch, but it takes a strongman to control religious fanatics.
Early in the Arab Spring, I wrote in a poem that, “Flying will be easy / Compared to landing.” Now spring has long passed and we find ourselves in a summer rain of bullets; still, we have to carry on. Hopefully we are on our way to democracy and mutual understanding, even if the road is long. We must not hate Muslims, although I do wonder why their voices – compared to their numbers – are in such short supply when it comes to condemning events.
We must not be quiet – whether Muslim, Christian, or Atheist – but neither should we give the terrorists too much attention. That’s what all scoundrels crave. Next time you get pissed off, donate a dollar to fight global warming or poverty in Africa. That’s the cradle of the next wave of problems. For now, we must live our lives, express our thoughts, love the wonderful people around us, and ensure our children a bright future.
That’s all in our hands. That’s all manageable. And we’ll always have Paris.
In New York, you can’t get to the water
But the water can get to you,
I say to someone at the opening of an art exhibition
Of paintings by Vilhelm Hammershøi
Who painted with light and shades of white,
Leaving the water to the imagination
And then was forgotten for a lifetime.
I stroll with my wife through Murray Hill,
Sharing a plate of Indian food among the cab drivers.
At Gramercy Park, a man in a blue suit gives us
An impromptu tour of Governor Tilden’s mansion,
The dark wood, tall ceilings, the old bricks visible
Inside the mahogany pocket doors and I point
To a framed drawing among hundreds of portraits,
Saying, “Isn’t that Itzhak Perlman?”
“Could be,” he shrugs, turning to assist a young
Intoxicated Russian lady in the doorway.
At home, I look at old photographs, flickers of light
In pieces of glass from the shattered window of childhood.
It’s October, these mornings are clear, and with my eyes closed
I can hear my mother’s radio in her kitchen –
All the stories about the Middle East,
The burning of books and violins
That they somehow still insist on calling The News.
Min nye roman, DET KOLDESTE LAND I VERDEN, udkommer d. 30. oktober, 2015.
DET KOLDESTE LAND I VERDEN er en fortælling om at tage skridtet fra barn til voksen. Vi møder Daniel Enevoldsen, der vokser op med sine søskende i et religiøst kollektiv i en flække ude på landet.
Da der flytter to hippier ind på Overgården, og Daniel får øje på deres smukke datter, Siva, gennem et hul i hækken, begynder han at sætte spørgsmålstegn ved flere af Genkomstkirkens læresætninger. Ikke mindst fordi både Siva og hendes mor ofte går rundt uden en trevl på kroppen.
Historien foregår i 1984, hvor Daniel oplever den første begravelse i familien, den første forelskelse og gør sig sine første erotiske erfaringer, dog ikke med samme pige.
DET KOLDESTE LAND I VERDEN er en både mørk, eksistentiel og humoristisk roman om at træde i karakter som næsten-voksen uden at miste sig selv, sine drømme eller sin familie undervejs.
Bogen udkommer på forlaget EgoLibris. Bestil den hos din lokale boghandel.
Jeg fortæller om romanen på BogForum, søndag d. 8. november kl. 15.15.
Jeg fortæller og læser op hos Kristian F. Møller, torsdag d. 12. november kl. 16.30.
Det smukke omslag er lavet af Peter Fröhlich.