The Butchers’ Reincarnation: Visions of the Nuclear Age

The Butchers’ Reincarnation: Visions of the Nuclear Age

Reencarnación de los carniceros: Visiones de la Era Nuclear

Óscar Hahn

Translated by Trans. G. J. Racz


The Horsemen of the Apocalypse

At twelve they’ll come by frothing at the mouth

and leave their tufts of smoke before you there

these horses skin and bones beneath the sun

with riders dressed as skeletons set to hurl

their fierce invective at you seven deep

and seven long in war formation out

from Moscow Syria Berlin Washington

in hearses marked with swastikas and stars

amid more creatures still with heads of men

en route to those same limits of the world

in flames the very catacombs of hell

their lesson for unseeing eyes along

a river formed of radioactive blood

as corporations dictate and advance

without the least compassion pitiless

at risk of emptying the firmament

upon the innocent now hiding here

behind frail walls of cardboard and of straw


The Fifth Element

A person can lose his way in life

turn off the path and take the wrong road

Entering through a door that wasn’t in his plans

and never getting out

Inside he’ll be surrounded by wires

walls and moats

That’s when life starts setting the pace

and he parades around in circles

like the inmates in a prison yard

or goes on living blindly

like a man condemned to death

who knows his sentence

but not the day his execution will be carried out

Lives outside his own

other people’s lives don’t matter to the dead man

The only thing that does

is the life inside us all

and if that life goes away

a person goes with it taken by the hand

for he no longer exists

Gone finished vanished

For all the living remember us

or however often they place flowers on our graves

nothing changes

because no one is made

of the substance of memory

Those famous heroes

whose statues fill the city

are no less dead

than the bones that lie

in the tomb of the unknown soldier

That’s what we are:  unknown soldiers

or known ones (it’s all the same)

who day by day not only lose the battle

but the war

Memory is a faculty of the living

The dead don’t remember a thing

To be dead means having no past

present or future

Everything we say about the deceased

we claim as experts

in existences we’ve never had

Does anyone really know what the water

earth air or fire thinks?

Death is the fifth element


I’m Just Saying

What if God wasn’t as great as they say

but just the size of a pinhead?

Or smaller still:  maybe like an atom

or subatomic particle?

Or tinier yet:  perhaps like a quantum

of some unmeasurably minute substance?

And what if He wasn’t the Supreme Being

but the supremely negligible one?

Then what if He had created man

in His own image and likeness?

I’m just saying


These poems are part of the title,  The Butchers’ Reincarnation: Visions of the Nuclear by Óscar Hahn and translated by Trans. G. J. Racz. Used with the permission of Dos Madres Press.

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