The Führer Descends from Heaven
(or The First Twenty Minutes of Triumph of the Will)


The Führer has chosen the best place on earth
To drop down on. All the people are waving to him,
And the voluptuous women are pointing at him.
There are white linen handkerchiefs and window boxes too.

Across the crowd—
A blur of salutation and desire—
The Führer's right hand goes up,
Luminous and birdlike.

The Führer passes under
A bannered bridge and then the world opens up to him again
In a bright circle with rowhouses and people and garlands inside. A mother and child break
From the crowd to give him a bouquet; how lovely.

Then the Führer cocks his head a little
To watch hanging banners twist like ribbons.
He looks at the banners so delicately,
He must have a poetic eye.

Night falls.
The Führer stands at the belvedere.
Torches light the place, pretty
Like fireflies.

Then day breaks in an army camp.
There are tents and tepees and men there.
The men part each other's hair and wash each other's backs.
Then they carry a wagon of wood

To the kitchen. The chef looks like a beautiful king,
And he cooks sausages.
The army men wrestle, and above a trampoline
A boy scrambles in the air.

Then the parade again.
A girl eats an apple, and the Führer appears.
A boy sucks his fingers, and the Führer appears.
And some of the women lick their lips.



The Pause (Tilo Baumgärtel)
    FOR SUNJE

The dahlias in glass vases at the tearoom in Suzhou.
The duck with the Ming emperor's profile
hanging in a window by the gate downtown.
The people were a bouquet repeating the reflection of the people on the water
You might describe the crowd that gathered in Datong
for the Ceremony of the Dead.
So many images for the love letters you would write
once you mastered this script!

*

The scribe who bequeathed his craft to you
sees the brush stop above the character
that has already stuttered six times across your page.

*

Like a squid he withdrew.
The page disappeared in a blot of ink.

*

Do the images now seem irredeemably modest,
impotent like the dragon that goes down
Jinan Street at the New Year?

Is this why your pity for the crabs huddled
into the corners of tanks at the restaurant
where you eat watercress and pastries filled
with redbean paste
deepens into inconsolable dread?

*

You asked to know the character for human being.
The scribe drew a wishbone.
It looks like two people leaning into each other he said.

Seven Ways of Paraphrase

Only for the limp rally of paraphrase
wave your banners of flesh.

See that hissing tree, with the brown leaves still holding on—
I am its paraphrase.

The sweet paraphrase of your sweet arms:
the Notdespitebutbecause, which is love.

With the minutia of paraphrase our mirrors
mock us.

That to paraphrase even God must stoop
the burning bush was proof.

A small orange fire
is paraphrase for woman smoking at night.

A struck stone wishes it were Pegasus and is
his paraphrase.

Janet Foxman is a freelance writer and editor and senior production editor at a publishing house.