Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Epitaph (2011)

We are stilled by such tragedies
as we cannot comprehend. Those
children in Russia, Virginia,
Norway, Colorado. So many.

Nature, too, inflicts inertia.
Tsunamis, hurricanes, and fires
deconstruct the careful longing,
our sure pretense of relevance,

leaving inadequate options:
to take comfort in words in which
there can be no comfort, to paint
our religions, coax them to life.

Mapmakers today understand
the world is made entirely
of layers: air patterns, land and
watersheds, forest and roadways,

urban densities, also known
as towns and the people within.
Remove these layers and the earth
becomes almost invisible,

surely as it must have been when
God laid the framework for first sin.
Are we to take heart knowing that
even He started over once?

It is easy to view the stars
as souls, and if the stars then birds,
some rivers. And if rivers we
might be baptized in each other.

The coffee mugs are always clean.
The muddled bedroom is empty.
God, after this grief, every
I love you feels like goodbye.

(Revised July 2011, c. Martin A. Bartels. Prayers for Norway. This poem appeared in Poetry24 on July 26, 2011).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


In the room adjacent you are undressing
and I imagine the wall between us is more
transparent than my heart. I trace the

shadow that marks the differences between
us (postpone for a moment the need to determine
who is light and who is darkness--both states are

preferable to the nothing in between). In this house
I wonder at the walls, how they could have been
built so much thinner than my own. At night,

deep at night, I lay awake imagining I am
on the roof mystified by starlight, lost in the
lack of self, the dark matter and the dark

energy, the dark at all, where I become the
shadow. This starlight itself is our distant past,
the place where we began. I am helpless against

the onslaught of memories. Between you and
between I there was the catalyst of love, the
spark that traveled one hundred thousand

light years to become us today. We were astronauts
training for space travel, hitching a ride on a
shuttle bound to skim Earth’s fragile atmosphere.

We catapulted fiercely upward in the poignant
attempt to grasp those altitudes previously
imagined only by poets and smitten nerds;

the moon, the stars, Jupiter's satellites, mere space.
We methodically composed a future without end
and now, stalled on this eternal landing strip, are left

embarrassingly unprepared for the inevitable
anticlimax. After all of it... after the one step, the giant
leap, the missions and the thrust, after the spectacular

and the tragic, after the epiphanies of hearts left
momentarily unbound by gravity of thought or
promise or debt, after we soared beyond all

expectations, we confront the persistent disability
that we are tethered here, after all, by our most
mundane realities. There is no app for reinvention.

--Martin A. Bartels

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Job Description

(experimental: A found poem, adapted from AltaVista Babel Fish translation of a German language job posting)

The consistent experience of
creation and technology is our daily
requirement. We create applications,
which knows today still nobody –
not times we ourselves.
Therefore we live pioneer culture.

Do they go along?

The conception stands at the
beginning of each project.
Here the project ideas in close teeth
with the Design and the consultation,
which are then taken up and developed
in the specialist areas, develop.

Conception is the development and
formulation of a communicable guidance idea,
the definition of the measures and applications
that can be seized, as well as their
switching, opposite the customer.
Clear marketing adjustment first experience

in the rough and fine conception on
relevant customer projects,
above average interest in communication,
ability to the precision in expression and in the
ability, switching of ideas, minted abstraction,
very good general knowledge and social authority.

--Martin A. Bartels, July 2011