Why does the dolphin see you and disappear into the sea?

Five prose poems by Harold Jaffe

Harold Jaffe's work — 26 volumes and counting — has been has been translated in Turkey, France, Spain, Romania, Japan, Italy, and Cuba.
  • Harold Jaffe's work — 26 volumes and counting — has been has been translated in Turkey, France, Spain, Romania, Japan, Italy, and Cuba.

Auschwitz

A message in a bottle has been found in a concrete wall on the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Dated 9 September 1944, the message, in French, contains names, numbers and home towns of 11 Jewish inmates.

“We are between 17 and 20-years-old,” the final sentence reads.

Einstein

suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome.

As a child, he repeated words obsessively.

As an adult, he made friends, had multiple affairs, spoke out on political issues.

Passion, genius, and standing up for justice are compatible with Asperger’s.

What sufferers find difficult is small talk, an area where Einstein failed utterly.

Borges & Neruda

Disliked each other.

Borges insisted that Neruda sacrificed his undeniable gift for an absurd politics which segregated him from “true” poetry.

Neruda said little about Borges but enough to suggest he thought Borges a cowardly royalist.

Neruda’s gift was to write with his heart-mind.

Borges’s gift was to write with his mind-heart.

Or better: mind-mind-heart.

Zen

  • Why does the dove fly from you?
  • Because she is afraid.
  • No, it is because of your murderous instinct.
  • Why does the dolphin see you and disappear into the sea?
  • Because he is afraid.
  • No, it is because of the murder in your heart.
  • Why does the native child run from you?
  • Because he is afraid.
  • No, it is because of the contempt in your heart.

Reading Nietzsche

  • I hear a bird in trouble.
  • A house finch with a tumor on its head.
  • I snatch it and put it in a cage with water, feed.
  • Nietzsche argued vigorously against empathy, then, weeping, embraced a cart horse that had been whipped.
  • Madness embraced him the following year.

Harold Jaffe is the author of 26 volumes of fiction, docufiction, and nonfiction, including Goosestep; Death Café; Sacred Outcast: Dispatches from India; Revolutionary Brain; Induced Coma; Anti-Twitter: 150 50-Word Stories; Paris 60; Jesus Coyote; 15 Serial Killers; Beyond the Techno-Cave; Terror-dot-Gov; Straight Razor; Eros Anti-Eros; False Positive; Beasts; Mourning Crazy Horse; Madonna & Other Spectacles; and Dos Indios. Jaffe’s writing has been translated in Turkey, France, Spain, Romania, Japan, Italy, and Cuba. Jaffe is editor-in-chief of Fiction International.

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Comments

Powerful. Compassionate. Thank you Reader for featuring the masterful work of Harold Jaffe -- one of the lamentably few American writers who continues to underscore the suffering of the dispossessed.

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