can you hear the thousands
of little owls cooing?
their volume led to
a communal undoing
steady silk precipitation
for a peaceful castration
the storm’s dribbles built
puddles that flooded the street
united dissidents who
refused to accept defeat
the nation endured
a tumultuous past
nazism then warsaw
flags still at half mast
the heat of Jan Palach
and sparks by many others
lit the way to inspire
free-thinking sisters and brothers
communism's grip bruised
the nation's neck
debilitated vocal chords
still sang in czech
this is a story of those
who refused to give up
dissidents who remind
us we need to stand up
the spirits of Jan Opletal
and all else forced to fall
can still oust a regime and
overhear a crumbling wall
linking arms and bare hands
voices and bodies began to flood
proving that revolutions need not
be measured in skin and blood
peaceful marching on
November 17, 1989
thousands united can
create one large spine
Havel’s gust reminds
the elderly and the youth
power in numbers when
pursuing freedom and truth
nic netrvá věčně
nothing lasts forever
growing protests had
the strength to sever
merging shadows dancing
lit by voices and candlelight
police brutality met with
liquified velvet not a violent fight
Havel na hrad
dreams can come true
forums and vocal saturation
no need for a violent coup
warm sun’s glow after the
storm and growing pain
harmonious owls cooing
may velvet reign
kde domov můj, kde vlast je má
wo ist meine heimat
kde je moja vlasť
כאָומלאַנד מיין איז ווו
quê hương của tôi ở đâu
где моя родина
Sa e manušikane strukture bijandžona tromane thaj
jekhutne ko digniteti thaj capipa. Von si baxtarde em
barvale gndaja thaj godžaja thaj trubun jekh avereja te
kherjakeren ko vodži pralipaja.
Říkáte se česky.
Co jste dělali před rokem 1989?
Přesto bych raději měla jako souseda.
Aspoň nejste nejhorší lidé,
jsou lháři, násilníci, zloději, nejhorší lidé.
Ne, nesnáším je, nejsem komunista, nejsem nacista,
Nejsem jako oni.
Ne, nevidím je, nejhorší lidé.
Setkal jsem se s nimi?
Ne, to by nebylo nebezpečné,
a jak jsem řekl, že je stejně nevidím.
Lovili je, ale nevidím je.
To není to samé.
Je to pokrok, je to dost.
where is my homeland
(in Czech, German, Slovak, Yiddish, Vietnamese, Russian)
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are
endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood.
You call yourself Czech?
What were you doing before 1989?
Still I’d rather have you as a neighbor.
At least you’re not the worst people,
they’re liars, rapists, thieves, the worst people.
No I don’t hate them, I’m not a Communist, I’m not a Nazi,
I’m not like them.
No I don’t see them, the worst people.
Have I met them?
No, no that would be dangerous,
and like I said I don’t see them anyway.
They hunted them, but I don’t see them.
It’s not the same.
It’s progress, it’s enough.
They were a lost people, is what I heard
When you wander through war and emerge from its chaos,
identity is the thing you cling to
fast, fall back
on a cold winter’s eve
There is nothing real if the self cannot knit together
what it knows to be true
what it holds fast in memory
what then renders the Old Ways false
A lost people will build their own prisons, is what I heard
The Red bled into Prague, yes
Carved its way into her foundations
Coaxed her people into hope with a dream
The freedom of white and blue
drenched in blood, yes
But what is the death of dissidents
to the dying nation
to her people who have seen red
caked on their fingernails
in the massacre of Sudeten brothers?
Tell me, what is a life in shadow
to a people still scrubbing skin raw
scrubbing soul clean
from the ash of war?
A lost people will become protean, is what I heard
No self can stand, so no self shall
In unbecoming, the lost people find solace
(The revolutionary says, this plague is homegrown,
they who claim dictatorship were elected, you know)
When walking the streets of Prague today
would you ever know whose eyes saw the terror and submitted?
Would you know whose red lips brushed the knuckle
of that horrid, horrid Red and spilled the dissidents’ souls?
After all this
What is it to be Czech
if not reserved
if not ever-watching
if not at heart wishing
for stillness in the movement
for silence from the drone
for the Singularity in this collective?
The Velvet Revolution was a rebellion, is what I heard
A protean people knowing they were still lost
Knowing that submission does not mean being knit together
Knowing that building these supports that will sooner become
Prison rather than spine
A protean people becoming resistance
But unknowing if the Red can be removed
A revolution implies force,
a vision for the future awaiting realization
A rebellion implies the inevitable,
a desperation for change coming to a head
Prague is a lost people, is what I heard
Even now the Red hangs
From the arches of hallways
Lifeblood hard to remove and only capable of fading
A lost people still finding