Poetry Porch: Poetry


Niklos Radnoti to Daniel Varoujan on Dusty Days*
by Diana Der-Hovanessian

They found the notebook in my overcoat
when one year later our bodies were exhumed.
They found the overcoat with the bullet holes
where the Germans executed the Hungarian Jews.
they found my breath still warm upon the poems
that said “upon my lips the taste of smoke
not kisses and no sleep bringing rest.
I cannot die without you, neither can I live.”

Poems to my wife. And yours, Daniel, to your village
waiting for your return. Your notebooks ransomed
by your jailer to a Christian priest. And sent west.
You, stoned to death, your poems like mine, survive.
Unlike lost notebooks of poets who died,
papers till burning that comes to sting the eyes.

*Two poets whose last poems were discovered after their executions: Varoujan, Armenian poet, in 1915, and Radnoti, Hungarian, after World War II.

Copyright © 2002 by Diana Der-Hovanessian.
Reprinted from The Burning Glass by Diana Der-Hovanessian. Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 2002.