Moonlight all around

A cutup poem

Jim Esch
2 min readNov 3, 2023


Cut-up poem using found lines from the Magical Realist Fiction anthology from Dr. Theodora West’s continental literature course, circa 1985.

A man and frau stand beside a craggy tree
gazing at the moon, expecting the impossible,
bodies steaming thickly, more and more unable to move.

What a death it was, two months long and so loud!
Big strangers, faces no longer familiar to anyone,
turning to porcelain, without a nose.

What happens next is absolutely unknown.
I’m on an urgent journey, a thick blizzard of snow.
I can’t figure it out, events fog up completely.

Utter nonsense is going on in the world.
I am no world reformer, will you save me?
I do not have the strength to pray.

I want to push open a window.
What am I doing in an endless winter?
The vanishing things leave nothing but their names.

I made an indescribable effort to muster myself.
I could not collect it. It flew away.
Let nature take its course.

Mystics fall back on symbols,
a bird that somehow is all birds,
a poor boy past helping in a blue room

or the green of the garden.
I know now that there is nothing strange.
It has to occur,

like the axe we hardly hear
in the forest below,
above us moonlight all around.

Couple Gazing at the Moon, Caspar David Friedrich, circa 1824