Logo, MacQueen's Quinterly
Listed at Duotrope
MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Poem: 379 words
By Jonathan Yungkans

Others Have Come and Gone
and Wrought No Damage1

—After La Grande Guerre Façades by René Magritte*
Magritte has a copper-jacketed point 
	draped in spotless white, right down to the gloves. 
War can be so disarming robed in peace. 
	This socialite turns heads, dressed to the nines 
in high-collared lace propriety, hat 
	ostrich-plumed with aspirations, marabou-
trimmed parasol. Height of Victorian 

	colonial style. I look at her, think 
of Death in Venice—the Visconti film, 
	Aschenbach as Gustav Mahler, watching 
the boy Tadzio. Adagietto 
	from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony sighing 
for a culture about to be machine-
	gunned from Belle Époque incredulity 

as Aschenbach expires in a beach chair. 
	Dressed in white like this woman. A trickle 
of black hair dye down his head cementing 
	the metaphor—Europe having gone grey 
but with a ravenous libido. 
	Imperial conquest and bravado, 
breaking a sweat in the white man’s yearning, 

	doing its best not to admit the wear. 
Instruct natives on how to bleach bloodstains 
	from muslin. Expect snowy countenance. 
Not ready to bleed itself ivory. 
	Aghast when the sea ran in carmine breakers 
in place of Mediterranean blue. 
	Even the French language would seem to blame 

women for war—the feminine ending 
	on the word guerre. Shifting the blame. A play 
on words upon which Magritte addresses 
	a question, dressed in shoreline finery. 
Does peace really shine, opulent, smiling 
	without a speck of dirt, a cloudless sun, 
umbrellas and fresh strawberries on a beach? 

	What about those purple posies, bouquet 
larger than a cauliflower head in place 
	of a face? Leaving imagination 
to fill in the woman’s color of eyes, shape 
	of her nose—the details of what makes war 
or peace. Not to mention how posies hid 
	the stench of death as bonfires of bodies 

collapsed and ashes, ashes all falling to 
	where the living walked, sooner or later. 
Does the woman really peer through purple 
	petals? Are they more like horse blinkers, to 
guide what is or is not to be noticed? 
	She just needs to take care not to sully 
those starched gloves. She learned from Macbeth’s wife, yes? 



1. Poet’s Note:

Title is a line from the poem “On the Empress’s Mind” by John Ashbery, in his collection Hotel Lautréamont (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992).


La Grand Guerre Facades: Painting (1964) by Rene Magritte
La Grand Guerre Façades (oil on canvas, 1964)
by Belgian Surrealist painter René Magritte (1898-1967)*

* Publisher’s Note:

Not be confused with Magritte’s La Grand Guerre (The Great War), below on the left, a variation of his iconic The Son of Man (below, right), both of which he also created in 1964 (Wikipedia: The Son of Man: “Similar paintings”):

La Grand Guerre: Painting (1964) by Rene Magritte

The Son of Man: Painting (1964) by Rene Magritte

See also poem and poet’s commentary by Jonathan Yungkans in response to The Son of Man: Le fils de l’homme

Jonathan Yungkans
Issue 14, August 2022

is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer with an MFA from California State University, Long Beach. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review, Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published in February 2021 by Tebor Bach.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Le Grand Matin by Jonathan Yungkans, a Finalist in MacQ’s Triple-Q Writing Challenge (Issue 11, January 2022)

La Porte by Yungkans in MacQ’s special Christmas Eve issue (10X, December 2021)

Two Duplex Poems, plus author’s notes on the poems and on the form, by Yungkans in Issue 10 of MacQ (October 2021)

Lawful and Proper, poem in Rise Up Review (Fall 2020)

Cadralor in the Key of F-Sharp as It Cuts into My Spine, in the inaugural issue of Gleam (Fall 2020)

I’d Love to Cook Like Hannibal Lecter [video], read by the poet at an event sponsored by Moon Tide Press (10 October 2019) celebrating the anthology Dark Ink: A Poetry Anthology Inspired by Horror

Saving the Patient, poem in The Voices Project (18 January 2018)

Copyright © 2019-2024 by MacQueen’s Quinterly and by those whose works appear here.
Logo and website designed and built by Clare MacQueen; copyrighted © 2019-2024.
⚡   Please report broken links to: MacQuinterly [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡

At MacQ, we take your privacy seriously. We do not collect, sell, rent, or exchange your name and email address, or any other information about you, to third parties for marketing purposes. When you contact us, we will use your name and email address only in order to respond to your questions, comments, etc.