"After Brecht: the Wreckage," "Sea Wake Awake: Sign of the Times," and "Insanity Sonnet: Sign of the Times"

After Brecht, the Wreckage

They won't ask: why did the ice flow so harshly?
But: why did you not recognize lies?
They won't say: how did the snow lie on the streets?
But: why did the lie so beguile?
They won't ask: how loud were the feet on concrete?
But: how did the poison taste when imbibed?
They won’t ask: when does the rain bring anguish?
But: who were the leaders inciting the mobs?
They won't say: how lovely the litter clogs in the gutter.
But: how was sedition fobbed away?
They won't ask: where in that time did you find rest?
But: which side were you on?
They won’t ask: what was the sound of liberty as it fell?
But: why were you silent?



Sea Wake Awake: Sign of the Times

A dune mat’s invisible on a crystalline night
floating far from shore and lost among icebergs
in a soft horizon, stars scintillating a mirage
to mariners that sail in a cold crown of air.
Damn invisible floats! They’re lemon murky,
sir tabby, sir leave, poor swat cat’s likely to drown.
A bold con’s a sailor in a darkling sea, sir sounds,
and a red flare’s a warning for all to see.
The key, sir soothsayer, is to see a murmuring
part in the art, a profound complaint that ain’t
found in a galley on gallery night. You can thumb
at a mayor, but ah! It’s shake-shock on the sea,
come see! A bully con’s deviance barks in a barque,
and a dune mat’s invisible in a cauldron of air.



Insanity sonnet: Signs of the Times

a feat’s afoot. Look!
to Nova for the bright star we are. Imploding. No
illusion in time. No relative, cousin, on the idle side.
fear is a format. funk is a friend. map your destination.
follow the north star or choose the southern cross.
Belt a high Yawlp over Orion’s belt, orient by Betel-
geuse, a boatswain’s bellowing, Pump the bellows!
There’s a hole in the hull! And she’s coming about!

I’m imagining sailing, or soup. bone soup.
and I’ve burned my hand. it’s Father’s Day,
I’m farther away than yesterday. It’s 4:00 a.m.
I can’t get Betelgeuse out of my mind, orange
gyrating in space. shape-changer. wake-maker,
time is not on our side. Ointment, Lenny says, that hand!



Martha Jackson Kaplan

Martha Jackson Kaplan is a Pushcart nominated poet and flash fiction writer who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She has a passion for history, a sense of place, and language itself. She has published both in print and online and has won awards from Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. You can find her flash fiction at Bending Genres II, an essay in Bramble V (online and in print), and is thrilled to be published again with Unlikely Stories Mark V. More about her can be found at MarthaKaplanPoet.com.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, January 12, 2023 - 21:27