Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Joan E. Bauer: Dreaming of Prague  

I can almost imagine the euforie

those first days of Revolution.


The crowds at Wenceslas Square.

Even the police cheering.


Václav Havel riding a pedal scooter

through the Castle—


Pinter came to dinner.

The Dalai Lama. Even the Rolling Stones.


For Havel, the Revolution meant no more sleeping late

or drinking coffee with rum.


Olga called the Castle “the Submarine.”




Rummaging though my desk drawer:

crayons, paintbrush, a box of Maalox.


You always want to be where you are not. 


Like a lizard doing push-ups on a stone,

I can’t help myself.




When I go to California

I take along some light reading:


Kafka’s Metamorphosis   Camus’ The Plague

& then I go back to dreaming of Prague—




Easy to be snide about a leather-jacket hero

restless for power


the way Hobbes said we all are—


But that doesn’t account for Havel’s five years

in prison. Or his letters—


I am not interested in why man commits evil. 

I want to know why he does good (here and there)

or at least feels that he ought to.


Copyright 2012 Joan E. Bauer. Previously published in Transnational Literature (Flinders University, Australia, May 2012)


The Velvet Revolution (also called “The Gentle Revolution) was a non-violent transition of power in what was then Czechoslovakia, occurring from November 17 to December 29, 1989. Popular demonstrations against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia combined students and older dissidents. The result was the end of 41 years of one-party rule in Czechoslovakia and the subsequent dismantling of the planned economy and conversion to a parliamentary republic.

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