Christopher Hirschmann Brandt


“On inaccessible surfaces within
the wings [of 747 freighters] some
riveters leave declarations of love.”
         Barry Lopez, Harpers

Hidden, love can be told.
“I love.” The simplest truth
frozen at 33,000 feet
or withering in runway heat,
riveted in place or scattered
across a mountain after a crash,
spread still above the scurrying on the tarmac,
or vibrating with the turbine’s roar,
this is a love that stays.

Love’s the one thing, so it’s told,
that tyrants can’t control,
so: what if we adopt the manner
of these riveters, and leave our love
hidden everywhere, there’s a closed
and secret place? Inside the linings of suits,
tailors could embroider their passionate
desires; the kitchen faucet
could pour out love along with water,
rubbed off where the plumber had scratched it
on the inside of an elbow joint; we could
walk on love, where the shoemaker had sewn it
inside the sole; the mattress-makers
could slip love notes into their work,
and we’d sleep on love. Declarations
of love on every unseen surface
until we’d simply love, without
knowing why.

Distance No Time

Distance so great
must be traversed
in no time – from
you and I to we, from
thought to thought,
eye to hand, from
ignorance to love,
from life to death,
and all our history
poured into our living
circle, the one we
make and remake
and make again and
never shall arrive,
we build it outward,
we curl up inward,
a beating heart – this
is what our love
looks like,
in no time.

Atheist Prayer

                (for David McReynolds)

Looking for god        any god        let that god
be many gods –        multi-gods        Janus faces
all around        at each point        of the circle, every
degree of the        three hundred sixty        all blind
we will see that        when one eye        pops open
and millennia later        another        and another

untethered to any        system        what can faith
be I can        imagine it        lurks somewhere
with nothing        to do        in the forest
called the future        that is where        gods live
and no one        knows the        geography
of that place        nor the weather        though
it is rumored        there are        difficult
questions        and biting winds        daily.

Christopher Hirschmann Brandt is a writer and political activist. Also, a translator, carpenter, furniture designer, theatre worker. He teaches poetry and Peace and Justice at Fordham University. His poems and essays have been published abroad in, among others, Laterál (Barcelona); El signo del gorrión (Valladolid); Liqueur 44 (Paris); La Jornada (Mexico); and in the US in Poiesis, Syndic, …and Then, Phati’tude, Appearances; The Unbearables; National Poetry Magazine of the Lower East Side and the anthologies Crimes of the Beats (Unbearables), Classics in the Classroom (Teachers and Writers) and Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and About the Police (Soft Skull, ed. Jackie Sheeler). His translations of Cuban fiction have been published in The New Yorker and by Seven Stories Press, and translations of two volumes of Carmen Valle’s poetry by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (San Juan). Seven Stories published his translation of Clara Nieto’s Masters of War, a history of U.S. interventions in Latin America.