Monday, April 8, 2013

Robert P. Hansen - Three Poems

Auschwitz, 1945*

The midnight mass-
Acre of five thousand
Candles wrought from the
Changeless essence of Descartes’

Wax, a fitting tribute
To the unnumbered dead
Layered in ash and dust.
My lips seek words whose spirits

Have been swallowed up by God,
& my prayer sounds as
Hollow as I feel.  I spit
Epitaphs on nameless mass

Graves.  I curse Nazis
To fight the cold numbness
Of fragmented fingers
Crawling down my spine.

*After reading Yusef Komunyakaa’s Talking Dirty to the Gods

Park Bench

It is a cold October day:
     the ground lies
frozen in the dust, and
I sit as still as death
     and wait for
the afternoon edition.
My breath clings like rust
hanging in the air,
swirling around the center
of the universe of
blowing trash and
tinkling wine
too soon,
it will snow.

Stem Cells

The embryo may be alive,
but does it have a soul?  I'd give
the claim a chance if I could see
and touch a soul.  Is faith in the
existence of a god enough

to make it true?  If I believe
in unicorns, will they, too, live?
It's pure irrationality.
                   The embryo

cannot become a human life
outside the womb, but can divide
and grow.  So, when does it achieve
its personhood?  Answer that, and we
would know the moral status of
          the embryo.

Mr. Hansen currently teaches philosophy and ethics at a community college.  He has had over 60 poems and 16 short stories published or accepted for publication.

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