Time to Kill

By Carl Rakosi 1903–2004 Carl Rakosi
a man and his dog

what fun   
chasing twigs   
into the water!

young girls bicycle by   
in pairs and plaid shorts

a wind so soft   
one’s whole   
back tingles   
with cilia

a gentle lake

the sun boils
at the center,
radiates the zone   
for man
            and lays   
a healing pad
across his nape

an airplane small and flat   
as a paper model
roars behind
the Virgilian scene

an old man
tips his straw hat
down to shade
                     his eyes,   
pulls up his fishline
and moves on
to a new spot

the poor small   
wood louse   
crawls along   
the bark ridge   
for his life

Carl Rakosi, “Time to Kill” from The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi (Orono: The National Poetry Foundation, 1986). Used with the permission of Marilyn J. Kane.

Source: The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi (National Poetry Foundation, 1986)

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Poet Carl Rakosi 1903–2004

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 Carl  Rakosi


The son of German Jewish parents, Carl Rakosi was born in Berlin in 1903, moving soon to Hungary following his parents’ separation in 1904. Immigrating with his father and stepmother to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1910, he eventually graduated from the University of Wisconsin (where he edited the literary magazine) and later earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Rakosi’s involvement in the . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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