Sunday, January 24, 2016


Star gazing

         near Gevgelija, Macedonia


You drive onto the bridge
at the edge of town
that ends there in nothing,
park on it, don’t worry
about the police jeep
parked there. Get out your flash
and walk left, through some
brush, winding a bit, come
to the railroad tracks, cross
them. There’s a fence with
a metal gate on the other side,
reach around the top to
unlatch it, go in. There’s
the cabin and workshop.
And the arbor to the right.
We’ll be sitting there
for our star gazing, for
our smoke and drink,
popcorn and potato chips,
laughter and talk. See
you soon.

There’s just a sliver
of moon out tonight.
I can promise you
lots of deep dark infinite
blue. About the stars
we’ll have to see.


What’s that clanking
I hear off and on?
Someone on the tracks?
That’s from the shadows
walking by on the tracks,
ghostly in their silence.
Shadows tall and small,
walking by without
speaking, walking north.

Seventy-two legal
hours to cross the
country along those tracks,
on the way to the
promised lands of
plenty up north, where
there’s money and
work, where they take
you, put you in camps,
process your papers,
give you asylum if you’re
lucky, allow you to
work, learn something,
where there might be
a future.

If not, you’ve at least
avoided the hell at home
for some time.

Seventy-two hours
to reach Serbia, then
cross that country
traveling immigrant
tracks and roads. Then
another border and
another up to the
promised lands, the
pastures of plenty.


And we gaze at the
stars and talk about
poetry readings and
expanding our horizons
in the white heaven,
about our creative
avant-garde projects,
dig into the snack bags,
drink beer and raki
and smoke and talk
about the shadows
on their tracks north
to the promised lands,
the pastures of plenty,
while the stars are
gazing down on us.

                – Johannes Beilharz

Johannes Beilharz, born 1956, is a writer, translator, painter and photographer. He writes in German and English. His most recent books are 101 (haiku and fibonacci) and Eine finnische Jazznummer für dieMissverstandenen (poems). He lives in Rome, Italy, and Pliezhausen, Germany.

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