Alain Ilan Braun

The Many Ghosts Of Prague - Poem by Alain Ilan Braun

Behind the flashing neon signs
Strange glowing glimmers
One thinks of fire-flies
Ancient and magnificent mirages
Behind the decorated facades of residences and palaces
Mysterious characters are looming
Cafés are crowded
All are feasting
In the street sleek women pass near me
Feverish are my night dreams
And I, in search of a soulmate
Wandering in the streets without names, populated by total strangers
Among the crowd pounding the pavements, and not one friendly face
It was very late and I got lost
And I thought I saw, but oh so briefly
Some lean ghosts
Opaque as the night’s nooks
Lurking near a cemetery
Next to a synagogue many centuries old
Unstringing tiny pebbles on the gray flagstones
Where names are inexorably erased by heartless times
I heard whispers rustling like autumn tree leaves
But here only antique stones spoke in a weathered and outdated Hebrew
Yes, I thought I saw two people chatting quietly together
Jiri and Franz, almost like twin brothers
A certain smile on their lips
Superbly ignoring passers-by
Prague, city of all mirages
Her bridges spanning the Vltava River with their belts of light
Or was it the Nile in exile?
Where I met thousands of Golem with their glances of clay
In empty churches gold crosses stained with ancient blood
Everywhere in this town looking for a soul but in vain
Only a flock of doves flying away
And memorials disguised as flower beds
With plates and names half legible
It was 1968 and I still remember
Red tanks rumbling downtown
And my friend and her beautiful eyes, bright and frightened
With tears for a lost freedom
Once again abandoned and deceived
Today so many signs in the chic boutiques stating
Wir sprechen Deutsch
We speak English
The past covered with a thick greyish shroud
Only stones are crying for the victims
And to the river each hill of the town sends its tears flowing down
In the gutters of memory’s muddy waters
On a deserted square nearby
I hear a bell ringing, tearing the silence
and I am still looking for a soul

Translated and adapted from the French original by the author

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Poem Edited: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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