Curt Hopkins

The Burning City

New York, San Salvador and Buenos Aires
Are loud and ugly cities on the make.
In centuries tolerant of violence
They dedicate themselves to money.
Their new raw lands are prisoners of schemes
Whose beauty shines in icy cliffs and airplane engines.
Masters of the future, men and women with no names
Vouch for God’s collapse in blasting caps.

Helsinki, Rome and London, though,
Are captives of whispers, dreams
Hung in golden doorways on the air,
Ivory bees wings carved in drapery
Caving into light, soft roads and walls
Used to hands and feet, seducing stones
Spiked by the nap of time.

You cannot breathe in the burning city
The beautiful ideas which kill.

A Dream of New York

Here your rights are few and well-defined,
You have the right to silence and to die,
You have the right to call and cancel time.
You do not have the right to change your mind.
The gunfire of the blossoms on the branch
Decorates your tomb when night descends.
Only live. Until that box of light’s abandoned
You will not have to find your gauge again.
The marked moon is murdered every day
As pewter trumpets in the blood lament
But murder, as we know, is temporary
And someday even ending has to end.
Through worlds words rain down like broken glass
And from our several wounds our terrors pass.

House of War

Brother of the knife
Sister of the gun
The sky is dark with bats
And the bats are full of moons
And from a thousand thousand cracks
In cracked old leather coats
A thousand blue-white sheets of flame
Illuminate a thousand boats
Whose sails reach from cold black waves
To touch the stars that stud their masts.
The hands they lay upon your brows
Are hard as ice
Are harder than your names
Are hard as solid light.
The House of War is dark
That set you side by side
And launched you on the waters
And turned your breath to diamonds.
Brother of the knife
Sister of the gun
Turn your eyes away from life
Death is bright
Death is bright.

Curt's poems, plays and essays have been published in 3:AM, Exquisite Corpse, BlazeVox, Cavafy Forum, Rhythm, Cirque, Perceptions, Gloom Cupboard, Full of Crow, Cavafy Archive, Good Foot, Bluelawn, SPSM&H, Dada, Catalyst, Big Talk and others. He has had plays produced at New City New Playwrights Festival in Seattle; Northwest Playwrights Festival in Eugene, Oregon; and Venue9, The Marsh and Doc's Clock in San Francisco, California (all in the U.S.). He is a founding member of The Big Time Poetry Theatre, Emergency Horse Magazine and the Committee to Protect Bloggers. Carl is currently the culture and technology writer at

(author retains copyright)