52 Poems for 2013, 21/52: ‘Praha’ – the Threshold


by Douglas Thompson

The noble carved faces
on all the Jugendstil facades
seem clouded with doubts
in this morning’s fog.

On Charles Bridge
the stalls sell the usual junk
it could be Crete or Majorca
tasteless watercolours
unauthentic antiques
Capitalism’s Midas touch
everybody wants Dollars
hard currency
the hope of the nation
vested in Coca-Cola
and Levi 501s
empirical new clothes
gaudy garments of the west.

And we who come running here
from our soured utopias
we want spirituality, culture,
history and its clean morals
the cafes of Kafka and Rilke
to shed here the same clothes of materialism
to which the street vendors aspire.

Somewhere the two streams
of moving people must meet
in the midst of Charles Bridge
East and West
those going to and fro
systole and diastole
the life and breath of Europe.


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Filed in News, Stories on May 19, 2013