by Lori Lamothe


                            after Robert Desnos

In the cafes when you woke out of a trance

the wine trembled in crystal glasses

and even the wintery light stopped to listen,

your voice a wave cresting over noise.


Back then, surrealism smelled like leaves

and cigarettes and willowy girls

whose gowns shimmered piano keys.

Back then, you couldn’t stop for logic


or just plain sense—the world

an iceberg melting in a desert, its hot

jazz seas fanning out across monotony.

It wasn’t until Auschwitz that you really


got it. Knew that to read happy lives

in the sea of palms held open before you

was to be, for an hour, immortal—

the guards confused, unsettled,


even a little afraid as they loaded

so many skeletons back onto the truck

and drove away from death

while awaiting further orders.