In Blue (No One Ever Wins The War)

For Franz Marc & Else Lasker-Schuler

by Ran Xia

April, 2017


The Tower of Blue Horses by Franz Marc, 1913


Painted blue was his canvas, which
Disappears like
A melted looking glass dripping down
Between a secret smile and a dangerous thought, the color
Of a fire’s edge and arctic water blue
And his many ideas
Of how things
Are not really what they seem
Not a pretty picture
Of vibrant shapes
But the soul of a purple fox and yellow deer
And stallions
The color of late summer sky
A patch of summer sky cropped out
By a window frame
With infinite reach

Fate of The Animals by Franz Marc, 1915


A white road in winter, connecting dots
From the crystalline slopes
To cobblestone streets
Dark as ink
From Bavaria to Paris, sunless in early spring
A rainy afternoon in January
She inhales the musk and tries
To picture
Her past lifetimes
A vagabond
Missing a homeland
Of stars
And the silver crescent
Her dreams
Thin as a dust jacket
Of a well-loved book
She stumbles around in a cloak with delicate threads and nothing to eat
And nothing to stop her head from spinning around
The doorbell rings once, twice
She shuffles to the door and listens
Once, twice, the sound of the bell
Slashes through the oil thick air
And that’s when it was
That’s when she received
Her first postcard
A postcard painted blue
A soggy piece of hope painted blue
From Marc with love painted blue with stars
And the silver crescent above
A tower of horses
Horses the color of late summer sky
And a note from the other side
It wasn’t raining on the other side of the mountains he paints
A rainbow there
On the other side
She says his name Marc her blue rider Marc her friend Marc who knows
How she isn’t really what she seems
A prince he calls her
A prince of Thebes
In disguise

The Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc, 1911


Camouflage of war
Painted deep green and the color of frigid earth, and dirt,
And burnt wood and broken stones, and
Everything exactly the way they seem
In order to hide in plain sight
To follow an idea
An idea the color of a fire’s edge and arctic water blue
The color that cleanses the stench of something rotting beneath the skin of
Something obsolete
He’s folded up the apron with blue
Paint splattered all over
His uniform is new,
His uniform is romantic,
His machete is romantic
His pencil is romantic, with words coming out of it for Maria always
For Maria
He holds the machete like a paintbrush and tries
To picture
A different lifetime
With his laconic dogs and his cats
They seem wiser than any of his friends including
And his deer


Painted blue
Blue with thick brush strokes and the fire of 1914
The end of it is red
The crystalline looking glass melts into blood-red snow
And dissolves the blue,
Into a world rotting away before it is born again
Out of the ashes the colour of sand beneath stars
And a silver crescent


March 4th
It was a good day
As good as any
In early 1916
The horror seems far away and the world is still
For a moment
The world is still, with
A tint of rose and warm gold before spring comes out of her slumber
The air has thawed when he begins to write
With that new pencil
See you later he says Maria love wait for my letters love it won’t be long now love wait for my journey home love pet the deer for me love
But no one ever wins the war
No one ever wins the war
No one ever wins the war

(Franz Marc was killed in Verdun by a piece of shrapnel that afternoon after sending one last letter to Maria Marc)