April 21, 1918: Kaputt (Finished)

after Manfried von Richthofen, The Red Baron

It is my love for the earth
That lifts these wings, it is
Your faces so far below
Like scallop shells
On the ocean floor
That buoy me.

It is the bright bead
Of a city in the night
That draws me in, the stored warmth
Of your stone walls that guides my hand.
Miles away my elderly housekeeper
Has finished sweeping the front steps
And she sinks, one hand
On her cooling brow.

The cradle of this sky
Is alive now, with silver reports
From below, tiny messages from the fires
Of night-blind, squinting men.

And now I do as my heart
Commands me, give in
To this pull: of man,
Of earth, of eternity.

The current thinking among historians is that the reason the Red Baron (1892-1918) flew so erratically and irresponsibly during his final battle was brain damage from a recent blow to the head. The brain damage is presumed to have caused his lack of judgment and target fixation. The last word he spoke before he died was kaputt, or "finished."


M. said...

spectacular. AND educational. I learned more about him in this peom than ever before. some would consider you brilliant, but it's likely you don't realize how astounding you are.

Your eye is skilled, sensitve, and compassionate.

Kate Horowitz said...


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