Robert Bly
The Approaching War

The sorrow of a horse standing in a stable goes on

Night and day. The plane that crashes in the desert

Holds shadows under its wings for thirty years.


Each time Rembrandt touches his pen to the page,

So many Dutch barns fly up. It’s hard to know why.

We do know earth has pulled so many nights down.


Each time a hog, caught by one leg, hangs

Upside down, he looks at the ground from above.

Our elevation suggests that the knife is approaching.


Things go on. The weight of history begins

To bend us over once more. It won’t be long before

We put our heads down on the chopping block again.


When we hear a Drupad singer with his low

Voice patiently waiting for the next breath,

We know the universe can get along without us.


The writer of this poem is forgetful like you.

For him, a century of forgetfulness can

Go by in the space of a single heartbeat.

Found In Volume 32, No. 02
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Robert Bly
About the Author

Robert Bly’s newest book is Talking Into the Ear of a Donkey (WW Norton & Co, 2011).