Poem Medley

This collection of Rob’s poems, with the title Poem Medley, was found after his death. We believe they were written around 2002.

Warsaw, 1943 (marcia funebre)

Homo liber de nulla re minus, quam de morte cogitat,
et eius sapientia non mortis, sed vitae meditatio est.
(Baruch Spinoza, Ethics)

In a still cell of the ghetto sits a scholar
Scratching sacred symbols into ancient paper
Crafting equations, engraved with Kabbalist’s calligraphy
Divining Creation’s subtle enciphered scheme.
A bald breath of daylight kisses a canvas;
From oilpaint chaos an ornate Aleph coalesces
Its God-made mandala geometry mocking
Iron-certain Swastikas, on flags slung flaccid.

With a rash, red-ink razor he scarred a Nazi.
On necessity’s cruel dictate in grief he muses:
He, a term in the world’s imponderable syllogism.
“To feel guilt is wretched”- indifferent philosophy
Not of the blood-willed godless prophet of the Reich,
But a Jew whose books fuelled the Führer’s bonfires.


harmonia mundi

τινες των τοτε ὲξεπλαγησαν ύφ’ ή́δονης, ώστε αὶδοντες ὴμελησαν
σιτων τε και ποτων, και ὲλαθον τελευτησαντες αὺτους

some of them were so overcome with delight, that they sang and
sang, neglecting both food and drink, until finally they died.
(Plato, Phaedrus)

The bronze-clad warrior Sun’s battle-cry cowers;
A chorus of cloud rends hair in lament over Croton.
He hears the planets’ plaintive wine-glass ringing
As they tread through a piquant, star-gemmed silent sky.

A glance in cryptic crystal mirror, his mind,
With his staff in the sand circles he scores, and signs—Offered as ash by an indifferent wind to the sky
And the stars that stare aloof a wave-washed sea.
For five days he’s tarried at Metapontum;
In five soils delved, rooted out wisdom;
Through five lives his memory turned, immortal.
He strings his lyre and sings in the night to the Muses



Upon the wind-shook tree
I hung whole nights thrice three;
Upon my spear was slaughtered,
To Odin, my own self, offered;
Upon the Tree that shoots
From deep unfathomed roots.
(The Poetic Edda)

A skull’s bony cage unlocked to the sky,
Branches shiver and claw in rage at the wind;
The gales lull no life in the flesh of the fruit,
A ragged idol, hoary with rot, withering,
In precarious twilight lingering, suspended on sighs
Of aching boughs which groan out broad his grief.

A pupil, quelling, swallows a swelling shadow–
Scattered tract of nothings, world’s-trunk strewn;
Eyes take flight, as frighted ravens, dare
Each an infinite brink– the world, the soul–
Swallowed in smoke and dusk their deep pits pondering
Then flung on feathers wrought in runes, to heaven.

Oblivion’s ecstasy curls on bloodless lips
Mocking mortal thought entangled in time.
Aloof the loom of fate, its fibre strung
With atoms and stars, he stands. But its knots still bind:
For the sinew that writhing twines the life in his veins
Is the cord wound in the noose that gnaws at his neck.


Daedalus, lost in his Labyrinth

Futile signs of infinity, ragged tangos
Looped by dancing moths about a candle’s
Faltering flame. Its wax-withering clock
Witnesses time like the man’s parchment skin.
The mirror’s visage long since ceased to lie
To eyes turned inward by books in a boundless library
Walled out of word-worn pages sightless in senescence.
Once he battled a path through labyrinths;
Now, Ariadne’s cord lies slack in his hand.

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