Heart or Reason by Jo Burns

With us, es ist verboten to smoke and cycle on the pavement.
It is customary to drink apple juice mixed with carbonated water.
It is mandatory to observe the weather’s effect on circulation.
Varicose veins without tights, or shoes indoors are a sin.

It is obligatorisch to correct even small irrelevant points in stories.
Eight thirty or Eight thirty-five makes all the difference in the detail.
It is unsere Pflicht that even small truths must always be spoken.
If we are lazy with those, what will happen to the big ones?

It is responsible to add the mustard of our opinions to your problems.
It is our making-good- duty to voice our Angst at this time.
It is regrettable to only talk of a past we have moved on from.
But Island friends with the black humour. Have you?

You sent your men to die for a big truth once.
We are grateful that you freed us (and reason) from him*
It is our duty to warn you how a nation can be duped when uncertain.
We have been there but now it’s looking red, white and blue.

*A 1937 German national socialist essay aimed at propagandists “Heart or Reason? What We don’t Want from Our Speakers”, explicitly complained that speakers should aim for the heart, not for reasoned argument or understanding.




Jo Burns is a 39 year old scientist and lives in Germany. She is one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. You can find her on Twitter @joburnspoems.