“Ask” by Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann


ask for forgiveness again the man with the dark skin
sat in the crevasse of the building and asked for spare
change and you lied again his dry face turned open like
a palm and smacked you with shame and you should feel
ashamed you saw on his face distorted features you still
recognized as human he was no animal other than the
animal each of us is despite the lie we tell that we are not
that lie is a cruelty which you hope dissolves with the wave
of a forgiving god a god who must face you as you faced
the man there but your god appearing within you will also turn 
away and will leave you speechless won’t he just as this man
in his rags is speechless to you.

from Rattle #61, Fall 2018
Tribute to First Publication


Thomas Mann: “I am by training a theorist and social scientist. And however much this training claims to get to the quick of experience and relation, something inevitably remains untouched. Poetry, I find, attends most seriously to affective resonances that are so important to human life. Poetry, in other words, is that attempt to utter the impossible thing.”

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