Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. His books are Exactly Like Love (Osedax Press), The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems (Truth Serum Press), and with Betsy Mars, In the Muddle of the Night (Arroyo Seco Press).
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alan Walowitz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
(Marvin Rosenblatt 1939-2019)
My friend Marvin knew his stuff,
could teach a damn-good lesson
from atop his head,
the history he’d studied hard,
and some he’d lived by heart–
especially the part he learned taking lunch to his father,
who drove the trolley that turned around on the Concourse,
and could tell his boy–even
without the exact, right words–
about the earlier time, hunger and pogroms,
the history they owned together.
When we made time for a city-day,
Marvin always dragged me
to the Jewish Museum on 92nd
because what did I know
and you can never know enough, he said.
Life and Death in the Polish Shtetl.
Who could stand such sorrow? I asked.
Meantime, he made his way from photo to photo
and said, There I am. That’s me, each time he saw
another, then another dark-haired boy
dressed for school, or work, or shul,
whose name was lost and taken for ash.
I sort of looked, so as not to turn away.
Till we came to a boy
who was just outgrowing his golden locks
and looked at the camera
as if desperate to be found.
And there you are, Marvin said to me,
when I was ready, finally, to really have a look.
Alex Chornyj published three poetry books in 2020, Vincelles, Little Angels and First Light by Cyberwit. Vincelles was nominated for The Griffen Poetry Award for 2021. He also published a children’s adventure book called The Chosen One in 2020 with Cyberwit. He has a new publisher Tagona Press from Sault Ste Marie which will publish a second edition of The Chosen One and simultaneously publish the sequel Beside My Equal later in 2021. Dreams can come true if you only persevere and believe in yourself.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alex Chornyj and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
A road of sharp glass
A bed of razor nails
A strike at the heart
Ovens of burned stench.
An air of intolerance
A life of misery
A cloak of daggers
If of the star symbol.
Hunted as if we were
Only guilty of
All dignity lost
A stolen identity
An enduring tyranny.
A time of depravity
An encumbered race
Injustice and insult
Lives that were cut short.
Try to pick up the pieces
But to hear the screams
Night after night
Day after day,
This sliced through the souls
Of those yet breathing
Wondering only when
Not if would come their turn.
From a wonderful life
To the bottom
Of an impoverished barrel
Devoid of sustenance.
As the will to live
Was slowly siphoned
With all loss of hope
The end could not come soon enough.
Then one morning
The gates came crashing down
These shots rang out
There had come liberation.
Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. He has written many film reviews for MovieBoozer, and has contributed articles to Mindfray. His writing has appeared in The Bookends Review, and The Society of Classical Poets. Emma Stone inspired Alex to submit writing actively to publications after hearing the Oscar-nominated song, “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from the “Best Picture” nominee La La Land (2016). Currently residing in Alhambra, California, he now writes with the sincerest hope to inspire readers while fully supporting the ones who dare to pursue their dreams. Vist Alex on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alex Phuong and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Each new day
Might contain remembrance
Which is different from
Because instead of daydreaming
About good days long gone,
People could still move on,
And only if they choose to accept
That this day
Really is the only day
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, Tinderbox, Cleaver, Diode, The American Journal of Poetry, Spillway, Nashville Review, Poetry East, and elsewhere. She’s authored six poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected (NYQ Books) dropped in March, 2021. Her photographs are featured worldwide including the covers of Witness, and The Pedestal Magazine. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. Visit Alexis on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alexis Rhone Fancher and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
—After childhood trauma from The Pawnbroker, The Night Porter, The Third Man, & other disturbing films.
Would the Nazis have killed me outright or used me for labor or sex?
This has always been the litmus test.
When I was young I knew the answer, but now I know it too,
and it is a different answer.
I’d thought myself worthy of cruel experiments, or saved from slaughter
by a sadistic, SS officer who wanted just to fuck me, but found me addictive.
‘Fucking’ doesn’t shock anymore, my sister said when she read the poem.
True, I agreed. But ‘genocide’ does.
I imagined my fragile sister, naked in the mis-named queue labeled “SHOWERS.”
When I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam,
I was struck by the fear that still clung to those rooms.
I followed Anne up the tiny stairs behind the bookcase,
their claustrophobic chaos, the lingering anticipation
of her bedroom. Anne’s winsome spirit welcomed me in:
kept as it was when the Nazis came, movie star photos
still taped to her walls.
First published in INTERIORS, Blank Rune Press, Australia
Alicia Elkort has been nominated thrice for the Pushcart, twice for Best of the Net and once for the Orisons Anthology. She was the finalist in the 2020 Two Sylvias Press Book Prize and has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. She lives in Santa Fe, NM and goes to great lengths for a mountain breeze and a tall tree. Visit Alicia on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alicia Elkort and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Now Is The Time For The World To Know
Now is the time for the world to know that I am ready to say Yes, a sound so sweet, even peacocks turn their plumes towards Jerusalem. Yes to the symphony, a violin’s stringed chant, calling forth my ancestors who perished at the end of a gun. Sometimes I see them falling into an unmarked grave. Sometimes I see them dancing. Sometimes I see angels, reminding me that the only thing that is real is the love that lives in the small house of my bones. Let the beauty you love be what you do said a prophet one difficult day. So I say Yes. To the beauty of saying yes to clove and tangerine, to tears, to heartache, to holy loss, to spume and butterfly. I say Yes to the incandescent pearl of me, the lightness as I remember that everything is sacred. Do you remember too?
Betsy Mars lives in Torrance, California where she practices poetry, photography, pet maintenance, and publishes an occasional anthology through Kingly Street Press. Her second anthology, Floored, is available on Amazon. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Verse-Virtual, Sky Island Journal, and Gyroscope, among others. She is the author of Alinea (Picture Show Press) and co-author of In the Muddle of the Night with Alan Walowitz (Arroyo Seco Press). Visit Betsy on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Betsy Mars and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
An Inheritance of Vigilance
With an inheritance of vigilance
and paranoia, I scan the news
and others’ tones, compare fascism
present to fascism past, afraid
to be caught unprepared.
As a child I tried to go undetected,
adopted a protestant work ethic,
my sympathies were catholic.
I hid my habits, exchanged
cheap for thrifty, Star of David
for crucifix, scattered money like chicken feed,
left Yiddish at home, relied on my blond hair
and unremarkable nose to keep me safe,
disguise the Jew inside.
Decades later I light yahrzeit candles
and the family menorah, spin the dreidel,
defy the fear my father felt
growing up one generation closer
to that near-extinction event,
my declaration fluid as candle melt.
Ms. Vandana is from New Delhi, India. She is a writer of short stories, poems and has articles that have been published in national as well as international journals. She is a regular contributor to Chandamama and Women’s Era. She also has a novel “In Search of Joy: Knocking at the Doors of Happiness” to her credit.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Bhatnagar Vandana and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Each day brings new aspirations,
New joys, new avenues, new dreams,
But in the history of mankind,
There is a day named Holocaust day,
Which brings sorrow, pain in heart, tears
Even after so many years.
How could people be in human?
How could someone be so stone hearted?
To kill so many humans,
Nature doesn’t permit anyone,
To hurt others unless to satisfy hunger,
We as humans have no compassion,
Cruelty arises from the wish to be powerful,
Whether such attained power shall be able to justify,
The loss of so much of blood, so many cries,
I wish I could change history,
And prevent the loss of lives,
Nothing in the world can bring back human life,
Be it money, power or intelligence,
Only the ones who lose can feel the pain,
I wish this day reminds each one of us to be more humane and maintain peace in the world.
Carrie Magness Radna
Carrie Magness Radna is a New York Public Library cataloger, choral singer, lyricist and poet born in Norman, Oklahoma. Previous publications: The Oracular Tree, Muddy River Poetry Review, First Literary Review-East, Spillwords.com, Mediterranean Poetry, Alien Buddha Press, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, Nomad’s Choir and Jerry’s Jazz Musician. Prize winner: “all trains are haunted” (Non-rhyming poetry: Honorable Mention) of the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Poetry collections: Hurricanes never apologize (Luchador Press: 2019) and In the blue hour (Nirala Publications: February 2021). She lives in Manhattan, New York with her husband Rudolf. https://www.carriemagnessradna.com
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Carrie Magness Radna and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
It’s still wartime
It’s still wartime
when we blame our fears
upon another people,
no matter what they look like,
no matter what their racial makeup,
no matter what their religion is,
no matter what their rung on the economic scale is,
no matter what sex/gender they were assigned at birth,
no matter their softness of speech
which language(s) they do speak,
if they are clean or not,
if they are affected or not by mental illness,
if they are infected or not by physical illness,
or, are strange, period.
When will we stop the killings?
When will we ban weapons?
When will we stop laying blame
upon people who are different?
When will we ever learn?
Charlie Brice is the winner of the 2020 Field Guide Magazine Poetry Contest and is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), An Accident of Blood (2019), and The Broad Grin of Eternity (2021), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net Anthology and three times for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Chiron Review, Pangolin Review, The Sunlight Press, Sparks of Calliope, and elsewhere.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Charles Brice and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Since the phone rang
in the middle of the day
we felt no alarm. Judy
answered with a smile
that fell quickly to frown:
Someone had broken into
The Tree of Life Synagogue
on Shady and Wilkins
and opened fire on the congregation.
This was Pittsburgh, “someplace special,”
as the city slogan proclaimed.
What made it special to me,
a fallen Catholic and backslider Buddhist,
were the Jews walking the streets
of Squirrel Hill, Jews with kippot,
big bushy fur hats, prayer shawls
and fedoras, speaking Russian, Polish,
Hebrew, Yiddish or the tangy
tongue of New York City.
Pittsburgh was someplace special
because I could leave shirts
at a laundry on Shady Avenue
and discuss the nature of light
in the Torah and in Heidegger
with the Jewish owner, or
attend a Passover Seder—
listen to arguments over Israel
and the true ancestry of Abraham,
or attend a lecture on Martin Buber
at the local Lubavitcher Shul.
But on that dreadful day,
October 27, 2018,
Pittsburgh, a city I loved,
was no longer someplace special,
but someplace shameful.
Eleven of its Jewish citizens
had been gunned down
because they wanted to pray.
Where might light be found
on such a dark day?
What would be its nature?
Christian Ward is a London, UK, writer who can be currently found in Culture Matters, Poetry and Places, Literary Yard and in the Poetry and Covid project. Future poems will be appearing in Sein Und Werden and The Pangolin Review.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Christian Ward and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Yasha Remembers The Great War
Yasha empties his pockets
of the Houdini clouds
he had been looking after,
transforming them into rain
with the ragdoll waltz
of a piano and accordion.
Leashed thunder claps
from the back of the room.
His obscure relatives,
faces vague like winter,
ask what the fuss is about.
So Yasha, being Yasha,
simply puts his hands
in his trouser pockets,
utters a Yiddish prayer,
and serves up lightning.
Previously published in the Kenyon Review
Christine Griffin is a writer based in Gloucester UK. She loves writing poetry and short stories and has been widely published including in Acumen, Snakeskin, The Dawntreader, Graffiti and Writing Magazine. She has performed her work at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and Cheltenham Poetry Festival and regularly reads on local radio. Christine is the author of ‘The Road Ahead’ a collection of prize-winning short stories.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Christine Griffin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Like all the rest
She looked like all the rest
shuffling across icy tracks
in a nameless Polish forest.
Dressed in rags, clutching a useless bundle,
she draped an arm across a small boy’s shoulders.
And yet there was defiance in her gait.
A subtle head- tilt, lowered contemptuous glance.
She turned to face me, heedless of my gun,
her gaze a challenge.
I pulled her from the line,
lifted her chin with the muzzle of my pistol,
spat in her face, still she stared.
Freeing her hair from its stinking shawl,
I laughed at the vanity
of a scarlet ribbon neatly tied.
I have that ribbon still, in a place I cannot look.
And it burns
………….… oh how it burns.
Colin Dardis is a poet, editor and sound artist, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His work has been listed in the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award, and the Saboteur Awards, as well as being published widely throughout Ireland, the UK and USA. Previous collections include The Dogs of Humanity (Fly on the Wall Press, 2019), the x of y (Eyewear, 2018), Post-Truth Blues (Locofo Chaps/Moria Books, 2017) and Dōji: A Blunder (Lapwing, 2013). Visit Colin on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Colin Dardis and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
“May there be abundant peace…”
Age? Health? Profession?
By these answers, you lived or died.
Lies were soon exposed
for the sake of a few extra days
or a week if you were resourceful.
No resource could deny you the end.
Those blessed by education,
rounded up in their prime,
the ones who smuggled bread,
survival a matter of a crust
or just a decent pair of soles
that could delay falling under
the nightmare; or killed
for their ration, their shirt.
Staying alive is everything here
where life is nothing but hell.
Dan lives quietly in Pontiac, Illinois, tending to home and garden. His poems have been published in The Writer’s Journal, PKA Advocate, Nomad’s Choir and Poetry Super Highway. His work is also included in several anthologies.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Daniel Fitzgerald and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Crime Against Humanity
What a pretty plant you are.
What delicate leaves,
such wonderful blooms.
Too bad you showed up here.
Too bad you chose to live here.
Too bad you were not planted here.
Too bad you don’t fit in here
with all your careful neighbors.
Too bad there is no place for you here.
To God you may be a flower,
to me you are just a weed.
Daniel S. Irwin
Daniel S. Irwin is a native of Southern Illinois, born and raised in Sparta, Illinois. His card reads: Artist, Writer, Actor, Soldier, Scholar, Priest. He had been published in over one hundred magazines and journals worldwide. He has published nine books. He is retired military (Air Force and Army) and retired state employee and has appeared in over one hundred films.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Daniel S. Irwin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
He Looks in the Mirror
He looks in the mirror.
No change, he looks no different.
Same student, head of his class,
Now ousted from his school.
Same player, captain of his team,
Now barred from sports.
Same young man, with many friends.
Friends who now call him names.
Always willing to help a neighbor,
Run an errand, expecting no reward.
The same neighbors now turn their backs.
The same neighbors don’t speak to him.
He hasn’t changed, but the world has.
Why? What has happened?
He puts on his warmest jacket, now
The one with the yellow star, and
Helps his mother with the suitcases.
The whole family must leave.
Where will all this craziness lead?
Dave Ludford is a poet and writer from Nuneaton, England. His work has appeared at Poetry Superhighway, Leaves Of Ink and 365 Tomorrows amongst other places. He is currently working on a play.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Dave Ludford and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Let There Be Light
Let there be light, a candle burning
So that none are forgotten
A flickering flame to light the way
For those lost souls cruelly taken
A light of remembrance, a light for love
A beacon for hope against hatred,
A light for truth, for tolerance, for trust.
As daylight fades we’ll not fear the beckoning void of night
The light will burn twice as bright. We’ll not despair.
And as the new day dawns
Let there be light, a candle burning.
David Oates is a writer and teacher. He’s the host and producer of Wordland, a radio program of poetry, stories, and comedy, and the former host of Great Apes (comedy), both on WUGA, Athens GA public radio. He ran the Athens poetry slam. His books are Night of the Potato (fiction and poetry), Shifting with My Sandwich Hand, Drunken Robins, and The Deer’s Bandanna (the last three, haiku). Oates wrote for the comic strip Shoe in the ’80s. Former jobs include reporting, radio announcing, and proofreading. He lives in Athens, Georgia, USA.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by David Oates and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Anne Frank’s house –
outside the windows,
hammering, church bells, pigeons
Previously appeared in Black Bear Magazine Spring 1997
and Drunken Robins, Brick Road Poetry Press, 2011
Deborah Leipziger is a poet and author residing in Boston, MA. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on sustainability and human rights, some of which have been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese. Her poems have been published in the UK, US, Israel and the Netherlands, in such magazines and journals as Salamander, Lily Poetry Review, POESY, Wilderness House Review, and Amethyst Review. She is the co-founder of Soul-Lit, an on-line poetry magazine. Visit Deborah on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Deborah Leipziger and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Written on Skin
In cursive and script your kiss
is indelibly written on skin.
Even now, the cut from your birth
echoing the rain is written on skin.
The numbers from a time of horror
are held written on skin.
Just as the rings record the age of the tree
my ages and phases are written on skin.
The wood from the forest for the violin
its music etched in wood, written on skin.
The umbilical cord coiled around my neck
is still there, pulsating purple, written on skin.
The parchment of history of storied sacrifice
is written on hides, written on skin.
In ink and dust, blood and bruise
my history is written on skin.
The newspaper stories of massacre
collapse and famine are written on skin.
Gems with facets etched by stone
hidden in garments, written on skin.
Your touch on my earlobe, fingerprints on my face
words and deeds unbidden, written on skin.
First published in the Muddy River Poetry Review, #11, Fall 2014
Diana Rosen lives in Los Angeles where her backyard is the 4,000-acre Griffith Park, a lovely distraction from writing poems, essays, flash fiction, and nonfiction which have been published online and in print in anthologies and journals including Jewish Literary Fiction, Jewish Writing Project, Poetry Super Highway, and Tiferet Journal, among others. She is also a content provider for food and beverage web sites and the author of thirteen nonfiction books on food and beverage. Visit Diana on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Diana Rosen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Past Must Be Remembered
The survivors try to forget the rubble
of lives decimated by the holocaust,
that burnt offering floating upwards
to the gods of unanswered prayers.
The survivors remember the beauties,
brilliant ones, those valiant, generous.
What remains are stabbing thoughts:
Why them? Why not me? What now?
At the camps, survivors, and others, see
the debasement, depravity, desecration, feel
the weight of eternal stillness. Can they hear
the birdsongs, the sounds of spring?
Until then, the past must be remembered.
Until then, it is enough to say,
I was here.
I was here. I saw. I know this to be true.
NOTE: influenced by the short documentary, “Colette” by Alice Doyaard & Anthony Giacchio.
Doug Holder teaches creative writing at Endicott College in Beverly, Ma. For over thirty years he ran poetry groups for psychiatric patients at McLean Hospital, outside of Boston. Poem previously published in Spare Change News. Visit Doug on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Doug Holder and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
A Holocaust of Toads
we dropped rocks
a flurry of bomblets
on a passing phalanx of toads.
Commanders for once
free from the clamp
of parental constraint
with the notion
of our control
of fate life
mini Dr. Mengeles,
with clinical fascination
as the blood
and amphibian skin
amounted to no more
than a small amorphous mess.
Well, after all they are only pests.
We watched them march
time after time
and we kept
our lethal promise
for their well-appointed death.
So many of them
black spotted, green, gray with white
all that blood
those terminal hues
we were just boys
we were Jews.
Duane L Herrmann
With work published since 1969, Duane L Herrmann, Topeka, now has publications in more than a dozen countries, in at least four languages, with citations and references in even more. He is an award-winning historian, poet and cook. His work appears in several dozen collections and anthologies with seven volumes of his own poetry as well as a science fiction novel. Growing up on the Kansas prairie, his ties to nature are strong and evident. His empathy reflects surviving a traumatic, abusive childhood embellished with dyslexia, ADHD (both unknown at the time), now with cyclothymia and PTSD. Visit Duane on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Duane L Herrmann and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
at the camp
from my mother,
from all I knew –
never to see again.
Assigned kitchen duty,
bits of bone
Glenn Moss is a media lawyer living in NYC. At college, he wrote a play for a course in Jacobean Literature, and at Law School, he wrote a play for a course in Jurisprudence. Glenn writes poetry and stories amidst contracts. Each area of writing enriches the other, with contracts benefiting from a bit of poetic dance.Glenn has had poems and stories published in sveral journals, including Ithaca Lit, West Trade Review, Oddville Press, Oberon, Foliate Oak Magazine, Illuminations, 34th Parallel, Harbinger’s Asylum, October Hill Magazine and Narrative Northeast. “Words” has been accepted for publication by October Hill Magazine
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Glenn Moss and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Jews On A Bench, 1965
Twenty years before
A corporal from Oklahoma vomited on his boots
As the skeletons reached for him through barbed wire
Rusted with the blood of once funny uncles and sexy neighbors
In a June twilight, on benches bordering Prospect Park
Almost like they are waiting for a bus taking them to a camp
My parent’s friends chatter about neighborhood changes
Different elements mixing in, changing desired chemistry
Thirty years before
Couples on benches in Vienna and Munich
Chattered about the same thing
Now, in the country where it couldn’t happen
Men with automatic rifles in Pittsburgh, Charlotte and in the Capitol
Wear t-shirts affirming that 6 million wasn’t enough
Waiting for the leader to do more than nod
So many want to be the one
And the grandchildren of those Jews on a bench
Remembering falling asleep during “Shoah”
Plan to catch up on Amazon Prime
Helen Bar-Lev was born in New York in 1942. www.helenbarlev.com She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, has lived in Israel for 50 years and has had over 100 exhibitions of her landscape paintings, 34 of which were one-woman shows. Six poetry collections, all illustrated by Helen. She is the Amy Kitchener senior poet laureate and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013. She is the recipient of the Homer European Medal for Poetry and Art. Formerly Assistant President of Voices Israel, Chief Editor of Voices Annual Anthology, and Overseas Connections Coordinator. She lives in Metulla, Israel.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Helen Bar-Lev and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Up and down we go, round and round
my lacquered horse is chafing to break free
of the shaft piercing its middle, to join the race course
not so far from Coney Island, just a gallop across the boroughs
Wait! Stop the carousel, the oompahpah music,
are Jews allowed on this ride? That’s good, because I’m Jewish
Daddy catches the brass ring, gets a black and white Teddy bear
and brags about it with a macho Jimmy Stewart dialect
to disguise any trace of his native Yiddish
Let’s go next to the Ferris Wheel
the giant one with a great view of America from the top
Stop! I’m dizzy and can’t appreciate the scenery
let me off, I want to go down but the thing’s stuck in the air
oscillating, strange words you learn in a place like this
Back on the ground we look up at the roller coaster
it undulates like a dragon, something that needs to be slain
before it runs amok and takes over the world
this amusement park is not fun at all
We wander around a bit and buy a kasha knish
all the attractions display the stars and stripes
patriotism surges in everyone’s heart
some soldiers stroll with girlfriends, families
Aunt Rose says Uncle Murray was a hero
I don’t really remember him, she cried at my birthday party
Down at the beach we take off our shoes,
dip our toes, the ocean is black and cold,
alien submarines surfaced here a few years ago, during the War,
surveying America from under the waves but then disappeared
Daddy, I will not go to the freak show, too much excitement already
but please buy me ice cream, yes, pistachio
– I’m six years old and like that wooden horse,
I want to escape from this place, go home
I’m Jewish and we’ve just had a holocaust
and even the Merry-Go-Round won’t let us forget it
Hank Greenspan is a playwright, poet, and psychologist emeritus at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has been interviewing, teaching about, and writing about Holocaust survivors since the early 1970s, now fifty years. His writing has appeared in two books, many articles, and in Tablet, the Forward, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and numerous poetry sites. His plays have been performed on NPR and at more than 300 stage venues worldwide. Much of this work, including the poems submitted, was inspired by his long friendships and conversations with survivors. Visit Henry on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Henry Greenspan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
In the beginning, we wanted to talk about it.
We needed to talk about it.
Nobody wanted to hear.
My own cousin, a dentist in California:
“Manny, I know what you went through.
I saw the newsreels.
I don’t want to hear a word about it.”
But a funny thing,
to me, a funny thing–
maybe they did see something.
This was 1947.
There were reports
about unidentified flying objects.
all these unidentified flying objects
And some people saying
they saw people inside the spaceship.
Yeah, just like they say today.
People with big, bald heads.
and skinny arms, skinny legs,
and large eyes, in big heads, on skinny little bodies.
I say to myself,
“I’ve seen these people before!”
Yeah, I’ve seen those thin, tiny, skinny bodies.
I’ve seen those bald heads, bobbing up and down,
I’ve seen those eyes, eyes staring, everywhere,
I’ve seen these people before.
And my cousin, the dentist in California, he had also seen these people before.
He saw them in the newsreels.
I saw them
Indunil Madhusankha is originally from Sri Lanka, and is presently living in Pullman, Washington State, USA. He is currently a doctoral student and teaching assistant from the Department of Mathematics, Washington State University. Even though he is academically a mathematician, he also pursues a successful career in the field of English language and literature as a researcher, reviewer, poet, and content writer. Interestingly, Indunil’s works have been featured in many international anthologies, magazines, and journals. Visit Indunil on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Indunil Madhusankha and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
It was not a quite capacious chamber
Though hundreds were huddled tight
Just like a panicked herd of sheep
The men and the women
The young and the old
The rich and the poor
The sickened and the handicapped
All were in the grayish chamber
Waiting to embark on a journey
That they would never return from
Some wailed and shuddered ghastly
With startled eyes and reddened faces
Others remained shockingly silent
Yet, peeing their pants
The old muttered dreadfully
Pointing their hands to the sky
Which was out of their view
A stuttering of Bible verses
And all of a sudden
As the whitish fumes engulfed them all
They had to close their eyes
And plunge into the gravest silence
With the heaviest breath of life
Only the echoes of howling and prayers
Now recurrently haunting the silent chamber…
Most recently published The Hat and Other Poems and Prose from Sixth Floor Press in February 2021. Published Toward Melville, a book of poems, from New Feral Press in July 2018. Previously published Alternatives to Silence from Starfire Press and the chapbook Some Paintings by Koho & A Flower Of My Own from Sisyphus Press. Frequent contributor to the online art magazine Arteidolia. Lives and writes in downtown Manhattan. Visit Ivan on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Ivan Klein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
_____Freud, in his mid-thirties, is traveling through Italy, partially following in the footsteps of his boyhood hero, the great Carthaginian general, Hannibal, when a series of associations lead him to the recovery of the repressed childhood memory of a story told to him by his father, Jakob.
He writes that when he was ten or twelve years old, Jakob began to take him along on his walks “and his conversations to reveal his views on the things of the world.” He tells him of a particular incident with the avowed purpose of showing the boy “that he had been born in happier times” than his father:
As a young man in the small Moravian village in which Sigmund was later born, Jakob was walking along the street all dressed up with a new fur hat on his head when a Christian came along and knocked it into the mud of the road and said, “Jew, get off the pavement!”
“And what did you do?” was the naked question of the son.
“I went into the roadway and picked up my cap,” the father quietly replied, and Freud notes that this struck him as “unheroic conduct on the part of the big strong man holding the little boy by the hand.”
This devastating found memory would remain in Freud’s dreams and waking consciousness thereafter.
One imagines the father warmly holding on to his young son, feeling him as a formative projection of his own self and speaking (perhaps for the very first time) of that awful humiliation of his young manhood. But the ostensible reason for the telling – the use of the incident to illustrate the progress that the Jews had made over the course of a generation – is at least as distressing as the raw content of the story itself.
Was Jakob really so oblivious to the effect his account would have on the especially sensitive boy beside him? So blind to the history of his people as to not grasp that his son would be tested as he had been tested and found wanting on that obscure village street? Wasn’t he aware in the deepest and truest part of himself of the eternal meaning and peril of the epithet “Jew” as enunciated by his personal emissary from the Christian world?
In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud contrasted Jakob’s craven conduct and the tragic assumptions that shaped his account with the historical scene drawn by Livy in which Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barca about to go off to war in Spain, swears his nine year old to vengeance against the Romans before the family altar. Between those two existed the generational bonds of Semitic honor that had decayed so terribly over the millennia of Jewish exile. The redoubtable Hannibal would remain a figure of admiration to the founder of psychoanalysis while during his college years when his “dissatisfaction with the conduct” of his father toward the adversaries of their people surfaced, he daydreamed of having a sire such as Hamilcar.
Poor Jakob just scraping by
in the face of the enemy!
It’s as if he had told his mortified son
We are Jews here, enlightened
This is the way it is
and will be.
Grow ghetto walls around
Submit and survive.
I tell you this
while at the same time
my soul is overflowing
with love and terror for
you, my son.
The contemporary Israeli critic, Yosef Yerushalmi, addressing Freud as if he were still with us, wrote:
“… I believe you had learned by then [his old age] not to condemn your father for having quietly picked his hat out of the mud.”
There doesn’t seem to have been any real basis, in fact, for this belief, and, of course, Jakob had been dead for a good many years when this forgiveness was presumed to have occurred.
Did Sigmund forgive him when they were both alive?
Did he truly forgive himself for being Jakob’s son?
How do we forgive our fathers their moments of wavering, of cowardice, until we have somehow overcome and forgiven our own dishonored selves?
“The Hat” was originally published in the Jewish Literary Journal in November 2013. It is the title poem in a newly issued volume from Sixth Floor Press.
J. Barrett Wolf
J. Barrett Wolf lives in Binghamton, New York, where he is the Poet in Residence at the Bundy Museum of History and Art and Director of ‘WordPlace – The Southern Tier Literary Center’. His poem “Main Street” can currently be viewed as part of the Vestal Museum’s “Empty the Inkpots: The History of American Typewriters” exhibit until May 31st, 2021. He holds the Bronze Medal of Valor from the San Francisco Police Department. He also holds the Bronze Medal of Valor from the San Francisco Police Department. Visit J. on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by J. Barrett Wolf and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Park at Babi Yar
It is the look of this dirt,
the earth sounding gravely
beneath black boots
and low-heel shoes.
It is the kneeling of older trees,
over the abyss,
Sycamore and Oak,
sagging skin of bark and burl,
the evidence of majesty and time
It is the infernal, impotent
keening of the river –
scraping its cries against
shallows and shore.
This Earth, these trees, this river,
a road within sight of the town,
within earshot of the ravine.
Spring will never warm this place,
though green will arise
from winter’s ash and bone,
new shoots leaning timidly
their roots sumptuously fed,
reaching toward a cold sun.
Here, the dead are not echoes;
they can be heard
dragging their feet on the moist ground,
forging endless bitterness
from the polished brass shells
at the Kiev Arsenal,
where they made war on their own.
The many grains of earth and sand,
the land upholstered with
benches, walkways, trees.
How beautiful the green and gold,
the path to the waiting glen
that begs the tidiness of forgetting.
Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Although she lives now in Calabash NC, she grew up in Pittsburgh, within walking distance of Tree of Life synagogue with a grandmother who learned to cook from the wife of Kosher butcher. Her poems, essays, and stories, usually featuring food, family, and strong women are widely published, including in The Ekphrastic Review, Potato Soup Journal, Verse Virtual, Verse Visual, skirt, Pine Song, and anti-heroin chic.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Joan Leotta and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Feast of Memories
I’ve been told stories
of a certain bravado in the
of skeletal men and women
without much more
than a crust of bread
and mealworm gruel,
by exchanging recipes
and tales of past prandial glories.
From memory they shared
sweet and savory
comparing spices used
whose and which were best—
nourishment for souls though
denied to their bodies.
Some succumbed to disease,
starvation. Others were made to
march into the yawning
Those skeletons who remained
now make a
feast of memories
that recounts how sharing
tales of food and love-filled suppers
defied the Nazi
plan for their demise
so we will not forget how
bravery fed body and soul.
Joe Milosch Homeplate Was the Heart & Other Stories was nominated for the American Book Award and the Eric Hoffer, best Small Press Publication, award. He has multiple nominations for the Pushcart, and his books of poetry are The Lost Pilgrimage Poems and Landscape of a Woman and a Hummingbird. Pudding Magazine published “Schooled.” 2021
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Joe Milosch and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
In the sixth grade, Sister Jane Leo showed a film
about the Holocaust. At recess, I kept looking
at my hand. I couldn’t stop my thoughts about the tips
of fingers poking from the ground as a dozer pushed
a wave of dirt over it. No one parted the earth
to give a helping hand as the dust slowly settled.
After school, I walked onto the dock and laid belly down
on its wood planks. As the lake air chilled me,
I pictured a boxcar of cloth stars, pinned on shoulders
in the shadows. Drawing circles in the lake,
I watched the ripples form a water-ring chain
and smelled spring, rising along the shore.
Between the beach and me, one bluegill guarded
its saucer-like nest of stones. Beneath me swam
a few striped perch. Orbiting the dock’s drum pillars,
a school of sunfish flashed their orange bellies.
I was about to slap the water when a pike
shot out from the lake’s depth.
It scattered the perch, sunfish, and bluegill.
Without names to be remembered by,
they swam forward then backward.
In their voiceless frenzy, their cries went unheard
as they milled defenseless without hands.
Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories. Jon is the author of the poetry collections Words of Power, Dances of Freedom, and A Foreigner Wherever I Go as well as several novels and short story collections. His most recent novel is The Enigma Brokers. Visit Jon on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Jon Wesick and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Poppies of Treblinka
drink sunshine like the pale, naked skin
of daughters huddled hands over breasts and thighs.
Fire-red petals flicker in a breeze that supports
the screams of husbands and sons, first in the showers.
Daisies and cornflowers too bloom beside rusty barbed wire,
the path to death runny with the loose stools of the terrified.
Trains of stinking, crowded cattle cars come and go
unobstructed by the ten thousand grasses. Galaxies
wheel through the vast cosmos, unconcerned
with the necklace of teardrops, each reflecting the others.
A man with pliers yanks gold from dead mouths. We’ve yet
to extract screams that can cross light years of empty space.
Summer clouds roil into a giant Buddha preaching
the perfection of this instant. Is that thunder
or rifle shots I hear? The birds of thought
leave no trace in the sky, but what of the stupa
of black, oily smoke rising from burning flesh?
Tell me, can this meditation cushion
survive the crematorium fire?
If not, how can I set it anywhere?
“Poppies” appeared in Backstreet Quarterly Review, #17 in April 2008.
Judith R. Robinson
Judith R. Robinson, Pittsburgher, is a visual artist, editor, teacher and poet. A 1980 summa cum laude graduate, the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 75+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection; one novel; edited/co-edited eleven poetry collections. Teacher: Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. “Speak, Speak,” poetry of Gene Hirsch, is her newest edited collection, 2020, Cyberwit Press. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry, 2018, by Blue Unicorn Journal. Visit Judith on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Judith R. Robinson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Picnic At Belarus
The children are there, too.
Some know the Beethoven,
Others are bored.
Late afternoon: they march around.
Imitate the soldiers.
The parents lay out the picnic.
The wursts and cabbage. The clamor for sweets.
This was the verdant east,
murder fields different than the west;
The children accept it,
Keep their thoughts to themselves.
They fall down brilliantly.
Costly: one vital metal bullet per Jew.
Newly found, an addendum to the story.
Torn hankies wipe the milky mouths;
The real hand waves goodbye again.
First Publication: Jewish Literary Journal, Issue 70, April 2019
Judy Koren grew up in England and after a degree in English literature immigrated to Israel, where she was a freelance information analyst. She returned to her first love, poetry, after retiring. She is currently President of the Israeli English-language poetry society, Voices Israel, and also manages its website. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies including The Deronda Review, the Voices Israel Anthology, Better than Starbucks, the Taj Mahal Review, The Road Not Taken, and the light-verse online quarterly Lighten Up Online. She lives in Haifa.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Judy Koren and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Munich. Empty hotel lobby.
You head for the room, but tour brochures
beckon to me from their wooden stand,
rustle, whisper in a chill breeze
eddying past the door.
Castle, city and shopping tours,
a half-day Dachau tour which somehow
doesn’t mention Jews; and a pub crawl,
in German only, this one, for the locals:
“drink where Hitler drank, follow the monster’s
footsteps, see the bars he frequented” —
so clearly intended for those to whom
he was not a monster.
They have survived, these residues
of old loves, old hatreds,
fire-birds risen from my people’s ashes,
ambassadors of a past that to some
eternally beckons. The city is suddenly
thick with ghosts, the air with emotions.
I am glad you do not like guided tours
or understand German.
Later, fleeing the veneration of
the Nibelungenlied along the Rhine,
after Walpersberg, on reaching Dresden,
I decide that enough is enough
and although you had promised to show me Berlin
we turn right, to the safety of Prague.
Originally published in the Voices Israel Anthology, vol. 46, 2020.
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Jerusalemite KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her most recent poetry collection is Rudiments (Seashell Books, 2020), her most recent essay collection is Simple Gratitudes (Propertius Press, 2020), her most recent short story collection is Demurral: Linens, and Towel and Fears (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2020), and her most recent photography collection is 20/20 KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel (Camel Saloon, 2015). Visit here on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by KJ Hannah Greenberg and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Clarity about Cultural Goings-On
Clarity about cultural goings on forces weak, timid, or bland others
To consider that personal traits, (versus important, stylized language,)
Remain unfitting for social significance, calamari, tough love, peace.
After all, providing sound content, that is distributing ideas responsibly,
Can’t guarantee any suspend beliefs or provide actors with good roles;
Folks tend to integrate sonorous soundings when local turtle doves call.
In a best case scenario, deeds that are phenomenon-oriented get cast
As cerise marvels, capable of assigning civility or merit points later.
Consider that terribly unassuming individuals willingly accept bribes.
Abjuring no-good-nicks causes needless, excruciating opprobrium.
Yet, never ought we to forget why we’ve gotten exiled, or overlook
Collective guilt. There’s meaning in the throes of most upset teens.
Documentable acts of kindness might greatly improve cast stories
If computers offered the wider world versions of concord, and figs.
Elsewise, we’ll remain short on divine tasks, fail our outsized empire
Larissa Shmailo is a poet, novelist, translator, editor, writing coach, and critic. She is the author of two novels and five collections of poetry. Shmailo’s poetry albums are The No-Net World and Exorcism, for which she won the New Century Best Spoken Word Album award. Shmailo is the original English translator of Victory over the Sun performed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Shmailo also edited the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry (Big Bridge Press). Shmailo leads the workshop Writing Resilience for people affected by trauma, addiction, and/or mental illness. Visit Larissa on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Larissa Shmailo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
For Holocaust Remembrance Day, “Kalinivka, Prmysl, Dora”
Kalinivka, Kalinivka: The ground over the mass graves is hard, the soft grass grows. The Ukrainian Guard, boy and girl, make love, happy to be alive. In the Ukraine, collectivized, they walked on corpses. And the Germans alone protest, her father tells the girl. Siberia, purges. Like the Irish, their parents collaborate; Hitler fights the Russian and English masters of their rural lands. Now here, Kalinivka. The mass graves crack with green life. 1941 is forgotten in the summer of ’43. She is 19, pregnant soon.
By1943, the ghetto holds the few not deported, living in tunnels, basements, caves, the hiding ones, the ones who know. All the rest to camps in Poland, Germany, or dead. The boy no longer likes the girl, but through her, he got his Kapo job. Even his mother says, marry. Have a child. The female Kapo bears a boy through the camps, Prymsl, through the unknown tombs of Poland, the unmarked graves, the walls marked with Jewish blood, the bloody broken nooses, the dark rain. She wants the boy to marry her, he makes excuses, says, the Germans won’t permit. That the child will die soon after the war, that she will beat her head upon the grave until it bleeds, that sorrow is unknown. The death of the Jewish children is unseen. Poland is always green.
Germany, Harz Mountains. The Germans turn now, now SS. The war is failing. Fewer the slaves to command, the girl, heavy with child, translates, working, starving, carried in rail carts for miles to build the V-2s. A rachitic Jewess cleans the barracks, the boy’s eye turns, with pity, with lust; he gives her bread. From Erfurt to the extension camp, Buchenwald’s new Dora, Northausen. Here they spare the rope to hang. All are hungry, the Germans too. The Allies bomb the industrial camp. Liberation. Rows of corpses, the eternal rows, line Northausen. The Germans are forced to respect the dead. Kalinivka, Prymsl, the unseen dead, now here in respectful symmetry, no longer piled in heaps, but rectangular, marked. The flowers grow, the burghers sing, “After every December, there comes a new spring.”
Published in Big Bridge, War Papers edited by Halvard Johnson, 2009
Lennie Cox edits A Day’s Encounter (adaysencounter.wordpress.com). She lives somewhere in Midwest, America.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Lennie Cox and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Woman With Me
I wear the tattoo engraved on my forearm
Proudly—for I survived and many of my sisters
Survived with me: We learned quickly
The rules of the camp, the evil and the enemies,
How to hide each other in times of urgency
And how to share our lives and spirits with each other.
Nothing was easy in the camps, and there was suffering,
But we had Torah to get us through nights of jagged horror
And prayer to hold onto our skin and hearts.
We were strong—yes, very strong—and it was this strength
Running through us that made us stronger.
Together we helped each other through the madness.
Remember always the small girls we hid in our hearts
And today they are women who remember us for our gifts
Of soul and spirit and love to a living God who did watch over us.
Margo Perin’s publications include Plexiglass; The Opposite of Hollywood; Only the Dead Can Kill: Stories from Jail; and How I Learned to Cook & Other Writings on Complex Mother-Daughter Relationships. She is poet of San Francisco’s public memorial Spiral of Gratitude and the Sonoma Regional Coordinator for California Poets in the Schools. A nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Margo has been featured in national and international media, including NPR, BBC News, BBC World Service Outlook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Heyday/PEN’s Fightin’ Words, The Press Democrat, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mexico’s El Petit Journal, Holland’s Psychologie and TV and radio. www.margoperin.com
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Margo Perin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Why Are the Lilacs Still Here When Everyone’s Gone?
A writing class of grandmothers, Jewish Community Center
Winter wind rattling windows
Julia, pen in hand, hungry to tell her story
Auschwitz-Birkenau: one teenager in a long line of Jews
Julia’s mother and little sister kicked to one side
She the other
It was Himmler you know, she says
Numbly watching her mother and sister vanish
The sound of marching boots
Julia huddled, nameless days by the barracks door
What are you doing there?
Asked a compatriot
Waiting for my mother and sister
The woman pointed to smoke trailing into the sky
What do you think that is?
A fellow villager forced raw potato into her mouth
Staunching the reverse flow of her life
Day after day women toiling in stink and mud
Shovels and claws, endlessly moving stones
—the strength of labor matched only by the paucity of potato—
Days, weeks, a month out on the sodden field
Julia a sack of bones and stones
One day a square of sunlight appeared in the mud
Against endless clanging of metal against stone
As long as I keep looking at that patch of light, thought Julia
I will survive
And she did
All we need:
One patch of sunlight
Martina Robles Gallegos
Martina was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States at 14. She attended California State University, Northridge and became a bilingual elementary school teacher. She suffered a work injury in 2012, followed by a near fatal hemorrhagic stroke and got a Master’s degree from Grand Canyon University and started publishing after surviving her stroke. Her works have appeared in the Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015, Spirit Fire Review, Silver Birch Press, Central Coast Poetry Shows, PSH, Poets Responding to SB1070, and Hometown Pasadena. She lives in Oxnard, CA.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Martina Robles Gallegos and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
With tears in their sunken eyes, they talk about their childhood lost,
thanks to a madman hungry for a supreme race that would never happen,
without the loss of millions of lives and the scorn of the world.
Survivors meet again seventy plus years later and show the Star of David,
still imprinted on their skin, sign of the unwanted and the battle for survival,
a final sign of their courageous escape from death.
Guilt-ridden survivors now go around telling their collective stories to those who still doubt
the existence of the Holocaust, but which they lived, survived, and now carry with them
to the deepest depths of the human mind, to discourage its repeat.
Mary Langer Thompson
Mary Langer Thompson’s poems appear in various journals and anthologies. She is a contributor to two poetry writing texts, The Working Poet (Autumn Press, 2009) and Women and Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland, 2012), was the 2012 Senior Poet Laureate of California, and recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A retired principal and former secondary English teacher, Langer Thompson received her Ed.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She enjoys conducting writing workshops in her Apple Valley community and High Desert where she won the 2019 Jack London Award from the California Writers Club.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Mary Langer Thompson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Committee of Transportation Examines My Crimes
Like reading war before peace
or maybe peace and then war
while trying to see both sides
so that I’m so confused I can’t commit
to the Nasty Women or the Total Women
even in the shower by myself
while water washes away the dirt
from my naked body
clogging my usually sieve-like brain.
even though Daffy Duck’s demon sits
on one smooth shoulder
and his angel on the other,
Oh, multitudinous me!
Over soup at lunch my friend tells
of meeting the man from Czechoslovakia
who talked of how they kept telling themselves,
no big deal—just sew on and wear
a little yellow star.
Just go along, they’d still have each other—
until they didn’t, and rode the packed train
like cattle and when they got off
and asked directions
the guard pointed to the smoke
escaping from the stacks, and said
There’s your parent.
Michael H. Brownstein
Michael H. Brownstein’s latest volumes of poetry, both published be Cholla Needles Press are A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love? (2019). Brownstein presently lives in Jefferson City, Missouri.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael H. Brownstein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
When they came for us in a camp called Ziegenhain,
our Master Sergeant stopped them: We are all Jews here,
he said. a simple statement. You are prisoners of war.
We need to move you and your men, the commandant answered.
The Jews stay. He had his weapon drawn, his men with him.
Then we stay, our leader replied. We are all Jews.
In anger, the commandment forced us to gather and watch.
Tell me where the Jews are or you’re a dead man.
Our leader was calm: Then I’m a dead man.
He turned and faced the gun pointing at his head.
Did you ever see a balloon deflate without a popping?
That’s what happened next–the commandant changed,
his face etched with anger, a point of hysteria,
then he shrugged, dropped his arm to his side,
turned to his men and ordered them to leave.
Shortly thereafter, they abandoned the camp,
the war almost over, Germans everywhere realizing defeat.
They left us behind. When we left, we did as Jews.
Now, years later, I remember him with every breath,
every child, every grandchild, every great grandchild
and he is forever and always in my prayers.
Michael R. Burch lives in Nashville, Tennessee. His poems have been published by hundreds of literary journals, taught in high schools and colleges, translated into fourteen languages, and set to music by twelve composers. Frantisek “Franta” Bass was a Jewish boy born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1930. When he was 11, his family was deported by the Nazis to Terezin, also known as Theresienstadt. Franta lived there under terrible conditions for three years. He was then sent to Auschwitz, where he was murdered at age 14. Visit Michael on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Burch and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon’s, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her,
……………………………and is not the same.
I still love her and enlist this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.
On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles …
They sleep alike—diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the “surgeons.”
Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less.
…………………….Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man’s crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I’ll bed there and bid the world “Good Luck.”
Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019). He lives in Acton, Massachusetts.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Estabrook and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
We have visited Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam
the Holocaust Museums in New York and Washington DC
and while living in Belgium –
the Dachau, Mauthausen, and Breendonk concentration camps
and these days I watch numerous documentaries
about Hitler and the Nazis
and all because I am trying to understand
the mindless horror of it all
can’t believe the power they had over so many people
can’t understand how they could’ve perpetrated
such unspeakable evil
on other human beings and the world.
But no matter how many camps and museums I visit
or documentaries I study
I’ll never truly understand because some things
are simply not meant to be understood.
Milton P. Ehrlich
Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. (Leonia, New Jersey) is an 89-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published poems in Poetry Review, The Antigonish Review, London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Red Wheelbarrow, and the New York Times.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Milton P. Ehrlich and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Nazis in my class
In 1940, two snarly classmates, George Larosa and Lawrence Marrineli,
joined the German American Youth Bund so they could dress like storm troopers
and sing “Deutschland Uber Alles”— which still rings in my ears.
Marinelli’s parents kept a banner of the 22,000 American Nazis
who gathered at Madison Square in February of ‘39
that read “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian Americans!”
The classmates weren’t even German, and had to lie about their ancestry
to join the “Friends of the New Germany” and attend Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, N.Y.
They must have figured if Hitler was good enough for Mussolini,
he was good enough for them.
These kids were brainwashed to promote antisemitism.
As the Chief Justice of the student-run Supreme Court
and the only Jew in our school, I was a conspicuous target for their rage.
After school, I ran as fast as I could—hitching a ride on the back of a trolley car
that ran down Fresh Pond Road. I evaded them by running in the back door
of my grandma’s dry good store on Grand Avenue.
To make matters worse, they were jealous of the beautiful Natalia
who liked to corner me with her prematurely prominent bosoms.
I never ran away from her.
Michael E. Strosahl lives in Jefferson City, Missouri where he co-hosts a monthly critiquing group when he is home from driving a semi for a living. His work has recently appeared in the Tipton Poetry Journal, Polk Street Review, Last Stanza Journal and online at Medusa’s Kitchen and every Wednesday at Moristotle & Company.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Strosahl and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
You already know these things.
You already know how families
were packed breathless,
lungs expanded by gloom
as they descended the cattle cars.
You already know choices are not choices
at the wrong end of a gun
and the lucky among us
were those already facing the mud.
By force volunteered
to prepare for the showers,
to clean up when all went silent,
to take carts loaded
and spill them into the pits.
We did what had to be done.
When the holes were filled,
we dug more.
When those full
we reloaded carts,
rolled them to the incinerators
took bones to the grinders.
You already know these things.
You already know how many died
for the sin of birth,
the sin of mothers and fathers,
Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.
But some of us were held back
from the immediacy of death
only to live every second
with its burn in our nostrils,
comforting new arrivals,
helping them into the showers,
lying to the children,
those little girls crying and naked,
telling them to stay calm,
everything would be just fine
after they wash up.
At the end, some of us survived.
At the end, some of us
walked away from hell,
from the black smoke of the furnaces,
black smoke that stained our lungs
so that all we could breathe
still reminds us.
You already know all these things.
You already know
how we wished we were dead,
how we wished our faces
were pushed lifeless into the muck,
how we wish we could forget.
Nancy Scott is the author of 12 books of fiction and poetry. She has also served as managing editor of US1 Worksheets for 16 years. She resides in Lawrenceville, NJ.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Nancy Scott and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Outside Rear Steps
The iceman often came down those rear steps,
empty tongs slung over his shoulder,
while Mother, heavy with groceries,
and I pressed on the railing to let him pass.
Two flights to the top. Afraid if I got dizzy
or my shoes misbehaved, I could easily slip
between the boards and crash, a wingless
sparrow, onto the garbage cans in the alley.
When I made it to the landing, nothing
to see but a field of weeds and junked cars.
My two great-grandmothers, black dress
and shoes. Gray bun neatly pinned,
hugged us in Yiddish that floated
beyond me. The kitchen smelled of cabbage
and unopened windows. While Mother
restocked shelves, I escaped to the only
other room to explore. Two beds,
white spreads, and on the carved dresser,
a glass tray with powder puffs, a brush,
hairpins, a few coins. Faded photos. A letter.
Why did they live in this musty apartment
when we had a big house and a maid?
At the oil-cloth table, I dunked hard
cookies in cold milk, waited for Mother
to stop gabbing and fold next week’s list
into her purse. As each grandmother kissed
my forehead, I felt on my arm the hungry grip
of her hand, her thin bones wrapped in
speckled skin. For a moment we were bound
by the only familiar we would ever know.
Nina Rubinstein Alonso
Nina Rubinstein Alonso’s work appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Ibbetson Street, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, etc. Her book This Body was published by David Godine Press, her chapbook Riot Wake is upcoming from Cervena Barva Press, and a story collection is in the works.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Nina Rubinstein Alonso and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Plants another lipstick kiss
on my cheek coaxing me not to be
a shy little pixie ‘come move
your feet in those shiny patent shoes’
because it’s a wedding celebration and
I’m in a peach blouse matching
my girl cousins with identical navy skirts
let them yank me into
their hopping bouncing dance
Aunt Rose out-sparkling everyone
with a flashy diamond watch
rhinestone glasses wide hands
glowing in rings her blue dress
a glittering ship of sequins
shinier than all the other relatives
even my pretty mother who’s talking
with family we never see except at festivals
to laugh or shiva to cry though some
I’ve never met before a smiling
great uncle didn’t catch his name
who doesn’t speak English only Polish
Yiddish Russian Spanish and some
Portuguese as he moved to Brazil after
surviving the pogrom that murdered
millions of families including ours
but auntie’s pulling him from his chair
because they’re playing Havah Nagilah
keeps saying ‘let’s rejoice!’
First published in Ibbetson Street # 48, 2020
Partha Sarkar writes poems being inspired by his elder brother late Sankar Sarkar and Shambhu Sakar and his friends to protest against the social injustice and crime against nature. He believes in revolution thought often he gets confused. He lives in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, India.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Partha Sarkar and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The saliva on the way to the revolution
The saliva on the way to the revolution
Does the sum to befool the headless
While whine on the bastard army’s boots
To curb the skulls when the digital ration cards
Below poverty line want to say something as to
The open door
The sick leave
The morbid lunch
As smells suddenly the gas chamber
The identity of the Gestapo
And kills the green rest
Snatching the photosynthesis from the twigs
And allows the rest to be brown
Under the icy sun.
Sees it the last chapter of holocaust
Yet, smiles on the guillotine.
Never does take the lesson the last drop of death
How to be reborn
As it likes to be petrified
Even in the attire of the pimp.
Patrice M. Wilson is a retired English professor living in Mililani, Hawaii. She has been published in several journals, and has one full-length poetry collection, Hues of Darkness, Hues of Light, with eLectio Publishing, and 3 chapbooks with Finishing Line Press. She loves poetry, art, anything creative that draws from human experience, from the religious and spiritual, to the strange and often harrowing events of history.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Patrice Wilson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Something Always about to Happen
My mind, a sensor of complexities,
is nothing but a camera tonight.
A ballerina in black
balances her whole life
on the small circle of her shoe,
foot slightly arched,
calves and thighs taut,
back straight as an arrow
in an unseen bow
pulled tight faster
than the eye can see. There should be others
dancing, but the camera’s only on her—
A calloused hand holds the knob
on the door outside my room,
a stranger I know only
from history, tight-lipped,
eyes clear, cold and small.
He has turned red from eons of light,
but it is night now and yet his black fedora
is pulled low over his forehead.
Jump cut. Close-up.
In his other hand, tiny replicas
of Auschwitz, Janowska, Treblinka,
buildings but no people.
The camera’s stuck, his hand closes,
replicas edges cut him;
he bleeds, but only a little.
A black cat is sleeping on my bed,
pulsing with tense half-wildness.
Against a green curtain a soliloquist
dressed in red. I can see his decision,
he is poised to speak,
when he looks at me for a moment
and we are both deathly silent.
Philip Wexler lives in Bethesda, Maryland. He has had over 170 poems published in magazines. His collections of poetry, The Sad Parade (prose poems), and The Burning Moustache were published in November, 2019 and June, 2020 respectively by Adelaide Books. Another poetry collection, The Lesser Light, will be published in 2021 by Finishing Line Press. He also organizes Words out Loud, a spoken word series, at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, lately presented remotely via Zoom.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Philip Wexler and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Night of Down
(Berlin – November 9, 1938)
The feathers, the down, more
than anything else, I remember.
Historians these days they talk only
about shattered glass, official havoc,
an incessant din. Yes, maybe
we heard some breaking, shouting,
faintly from the main streets.
But the neighbors who dropped by
without knocking, using, we were sure,
a master key from the none too friendly
landlord, spoke little, broke no glass.
The clatter they made pulling out
drawers and overturning tables was faint.
Softer still were the sounds of the quilts,
blankets, and pillows they ripped.
This part they undertook with gusto.
They were like children, shaking fluff
from room to room, down hallways
and stairs, out the windows
of our apartment to blanket
the streets, a softly falling snow.
In my life, I never paid any mind
to the insides of our bedding,
but that night, after we gave up
pleading with them to stop,
we stood aside, spectators,
and I mourned
the slaughter of all the geese
I ever ate. This scattered plumage,
their coats in life, was the filling
we slept on and underneath as,
on other occasions we stuffed
their bare-skinned bodies destined
for roasting with chestnuts and prunes,
all for our ultimate consumption,
which I now can’t help but regret.
Poor fowl, sustaining us with their lives,
their downfall and ours. The neighbors
shook hands for a job rightly done, and left,
returning to their reign of indifference.
No storm troopers these; just simple folk.
Once the flurries subsided, my husband
pressed his forehead against the upper pane
of the cold kitchen window, his eyes shut.
Our son, I released from the foyer closet.
He ran about, joyfully tossing as good as
weightless white clusters over his head,
exclaiming that it was a blizzard
and racing out to lasso in his friends.
I sat on the floor in a drift,
feeling what it’s like to be plucked
when there are no more
feathers to give.
Night of Down previously appeared in Other Voices, 142(2):58-9, Winter 2001 and subsequently in the collection, The Burning Moustache(Adelaide Books. 2019).
Retshepisitswe Makhatha was born in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. He studied English Literature and Psychology at Rhodes University and graduated in 2014. He has been published in Ons Klynti, Praxis Magazine online, The Kalahari Review, Poetry Potion, Poetica Magazine, and Stanzas. He won 4th place in the Avbob National Poetry Competition 2018 in South Africa. He is also featured in the Ons Klynti Audio Project 2019. In 2020, he was offered the chance to be one of only six commissioned poets to contribute to the 2021 Avbob National Poetry Competition anthology but due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to accept the offer.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Retshepisitswe Makhatha and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Why do they paint their intentions on
a canvas of
flesh and sinew?
On the bare backs of black
s are the etch marks -
fire-brands and whips
carved into skin like hieroglyphs
on the walls of pyramids -
telling stories of our intercontinental odysseys.
Why do they poison
minds with fabrications
Goebbels accused the Jews
of being rats in the streets
and McCarthy condemned red witches
Not knowing that deep in Africa
real witches play with lightning like spears.
Why do they feast on the decaying
names of our deceased
Pouring lye after lye (lie after lie)
on the legacies of our clansmen.
Why do they negate our traditions
and forget that their cities were seedlings
before our broken bones nourished the Earth
their cities were built on?
Our marrow is the lifeblood
of their civilizations
and their buildings
are the tombstones upon our unmarked graves.
Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in Poetry Super Highway, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and others. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University, won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan, three Sue Boynton awards, and first prize for short story at the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference. His latest book is At The Grace Cafe (Main Street Rag). Others include In The Presence Of Absence (MoonPath Press), Her Story of Fire (Egress Studio Press), The Way Home (Plain View Press), and a novel, Sedimental Journey (Tarragon Books). He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Richard Widerkehr and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
– letter to E.
When I read that poem where your mother-in-law said, You’ve always
been a little Jew about the waist, I think of my Grandpa and Baba
on Coney Island—clotheslines, smell of asphalt in the heat.
They spoke Yiddish. No, I didn’t think we yet; my sister
and I didn’t want to be too Jewish. The mannequins
in Grandpa’s office fixtures shop on Broome Street,
Lower East Side. Fuh-GET-about-it, said my cousin
Judy, who built her mansion in Jersey with breezeways.
What a word. Breezeway. In college, I used a pen name,
Devereux, a cigarette man on a black op, noble, a bit dishabille,
half-hidden like sun in smoke from wild fires on the hills.
When I read Nietzsche, my father said, The Nazis
got a lot from him, like your mom’s mother, that anti-Semite…
My mom who converted to keep the peace
said, Stupidest thing I ever did. On a hot day in July,
I walked uphill and converted. He said his parents
would sit shiva if I didn’t. Years later, he said, ‘No,
that never would’ve happened.’
Yes, something burning, this cargo of coal smoldering.
It was all a dance, said Judy, a fire dancer
on no meds who went down in her own flames.
Like you, she had a coat of no opprobrium
she performed in. At age 65, I got my adult Bar Mitzvah.
My 95-year-old mother said, Remember,
you’re half-Christian. I said nothing, Erin,
but thought No. Maybe,
she was right.
The above poems was previously published in Jeopardy.
An advertising copywriter for ‘what feels like a hundred years’, Rohini has written ad copy for films, radio, and print, in India, Bahrain and Canada. She wrote two books that were commissioned assignments as part of her professional work. Her articles have been published in The Statesman, Calcutta, India; The Globe and Mail, Canada and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada. And she is the author of four books: Desert Flower under the pen name Zohra Saeed, Five Lives One Day in Bahrain, Corpoetry and Twelve Roses for Love. Although a Canadian, she lives in Bahrain. Visit Rohini on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Rohini Sunderam and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
I am not a Jew
I am not a Jew
So how could I possibly know
The dull ache that stays
With you for all the families
The roots, lost memories
That you have known?
You have managed
To weave a narrative
With whispers of the past
Stories and memorials
Edged in blood and pain
Biting cold and hollow hunger.
All threaded not so neatly
Into your tapestry
So many rough-edged flaws
Zig-zagging through the smooth
Warp and weft of your collective loom.
And because of that
Although I am not a Jew
I am able to touch, to feel
A minuscule drop of that loss.
It tugs at my heart
And with you in unison I say
For Yom Hashoah
Your Holocaust Remembrance Day
“It must not happen…
Never, ever, ever, again.”
Shalom. Ameen. Amen.
Rolland Vasin (aka Vachine), a third-generation American writer, published in several anthologies, author of Stitches & Scars, Poems Lummox Press 2021, features at local venues and reads at Open-Mics from Coast to Coast. He teaches poetry to prison inmates and middle schoolers. The L.A. Laugh Factory’s 1992 3rd funniest CPA and member of the Branch Thespians improvisational theater ensemble his day job includes auditing child and family missioned nonprofits. A resident of Santa Monica CA Vachine plays the guitar, banjo, ukulele, and harmonica but not simultaneously.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Rolland Vasin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
I saw the Dam, heavy stones and mortar,
set between tidal floods and canal-side houses.
For one home’s tour, I stood behind
two New Jersey Jewesses,
big dyed hair and diamonds.
Projected on the wall, an old newsreel,
a wave of Blackshirts marching in a stadium.
The Fuehrer’s thin arms flail above his podium.
On the opposite wall, the film’s flicker animates
Anne Frank’s portrait.
At my elbow, a toothy, blond,
blue-eyed son, cherub-white face,
Ranonkel on his nametag,
snaps a sieg-heil salute.
His teacher hurls a finger of scorn in his face.
Loose diamonds fall through the oven grate.
I can’t breathe for the odor of burnt hair.
Hard rain falls on me all day.
Copper gutters overflow.
Pallid gulls in Dam Square are soaked,
will not fly.
I cannot love Ranonkel, nor heard his water.
No other choice, but to pray for willingness,
to hold bricks in the dike against the next Shoah.
Source: Stitches & Scars, Poems L by Vachine,
Lummox Press January 8, 2021
Rosemarie Krausz is a retired Canadian psychoanalyst living in Manotick (Ottawa) who recently obtained an MFA in poetry from Drew University. She is a child of two Holocaust survivors. Some of her poems appear online at poetrysuperhighway.com, in their 20th and 22nd Annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Poetry Issues, at jewishliteraryjournal.com (Issue 85), and in print in The Rewritten anthology. She was a finalist for the Two Sylvias Press Wilder Prize (2020) for her manuscript of Holocaust poetry titled Black Milk.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Rosemarie Krausz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Begging His Way into the Camp
My father was the man who wasn’t there —
a Hungarian Jew who could translate German
for the Hungarians — to beg for his own admission
into Flossenbürg concentration camp
on his birthday, Christmas day, 1944.
The Germans didn’t want a dirty Jew
to soil their holy soil either, when he
had to relieve himself. Better to dump
the Jew into a camp where they could squeeze
one last burst of work from a fizzling firework
on his way to darkness. Squeeze him down
to sickness. Then turn him right for the gas.
Relieved of clothing jewellery rucksack food.
Given prisoner’s striped garb, another
stripe shaved down the middle of his head
to identify him if he escaped.
If he wasn’t there, being a nobody,
he did not get beatings in the shower.
He did not get beatings after the shower.
He did not get beatings back to the barracks
where a straw bed waited for him to share
with five others, where they all had to turn
in unison just to sleep on their other side.
No, he was not there. He was no one, nowhere.
Four months later, he was less than nothing.
They did not force him to walk a whole day’s walk
to Theresienstadt where model Jews pranced and prowled
in suits and fancy dresses, to fool the Red Cross.
He fooled no one when typhus felled him —
except the Nazis who dropped him onto a heap
of hundreds of dead bodies. But he fooled
himself when he woke up, saw the man
beside him stare at him nonstop.
Didn’t know the man was dead.
Didn’t fool the Red Cross.
was pulled from the pile,
placed in a Russian hospital
to recover. This nobody,
delirious, did not even know
the war was over.
Susan Beth Furst
Susan Beth Furst is an award-winning Japanese short-form poet and Children’s picture book author. She has published three haiku collections: Souvenir Shop, Road to Utopia, and Neon Snow. Susan’s books for children include The Amazing Glass House and The Hole In My Haiku. Susan lives in Fishersville, Virgina, located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. You can find information about Susan’s books and future projects at PaperWhistlePress.com.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Susan Beth Furst and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
she dreams of flying . . .
no barbed wire
David Labkovski Project Holocaust Commemoration Program, April 2020, Official Online Journal
Sarah L. Hawes-Hernandez
Sarah L. Hawes-Hernandez has worn many hats, but none has meant as much to her as writer. After earning a bachelor’s degree in management, she took a bold step in pursuit of her dream of becoming a full-time writer in 2012, applying and gaining acceptance to the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, graduating in 2015. These days, she spends her time writing and researching her first novel, due to be completed later this year. Residing in Rockford, Illinois, Sarah is married and enjoys spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Sarah L. Hawes-Hernandez and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
We were children
My mother calls me and I run laughing out the door,
I am weightless, impatient, I cannot be constrained. I skip
towards the trees, I want to scale their twisted limbs to the tippiest top.
There I am a King and a Lord, and no one can reach me.
My father’s hand holds mine and I am nine feet tall.
His latest gift, a little chestnut mink stole, encircles my shoulders, just
like Savta! He walks beside me, his step shortened to mine,
waving at each person we pass down the broad boulevard.
I did it! I did it as I fall flat on my rump. I am a big boy now, I took my first
step! Soon, I will walk like Mama and Papa do, soon I will run and jump. For now, I
reach for the table to pull myself up. I did it! I did it! Now I will do it again.
The new boy is here, he has red hair. I’ve never felt like this before.
My heart races, I can’t focus. Is he looking at me? I want to talk to him,
But instead. I sneak glances his way, hoping he will come to me.
The Yad slips in my sweaty grasp and I nearly drop it. Where was I? Oh yes,
I found my place. Am I doing this right? I don’t want to mess up. My
Abba is watching, my Ema is crying. I can feel myself growing up.
Papa says my bridge is the finest he’s ever seen. Such strength, such
stability, an elephant would not fall through. I don’t know if I believe him,
it’s only matchsticks and glue. But someday, just maybe, I can build
a real one of steel. Do they let girls build bridges?
E minor, G Sharp, A flat, the mischievous notes frolic in my mind,
the chords soaring and dipping, even the birds are jealous.
My eyes close, my fingers dance on the edge of my desk. I can’t wait to get home.
I am lost in another world, full of elves and fairies. A world I have created
in the pages of my diary. I sometimes escape there, when the world around
me grows dark and frightening. Mother says it won’t last, but I don’t believe her.
I can’t wait to grow up, I have so much to do. I want to take a train from one end
of Europe to the other. I want to see America. I want to go to university to study science.
I want to have children of my own.
Mama says I can do anything. So, I’ve decided I will study the stars.
I already know all the locations of the constellations. Cassiopeia is my favorite.
I really can do anything. I can be a doctor, a scientist, a sculptor,
a writer, a teacher, anything at all. I have so many things I still want
to do. Mama, why won’t they give us any water? I’m cold, Papa.
Please, I want to go home. I want to grow up.
A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Tina Hacker is happy to announce that Kelsay Books will be publishing her collection of poems, GOLEMS, in June 2021. The poems are based on the golem character from Jewish folklore. Tina has authored two previous collections of poetry: Listening to Night Whistles published by Aldrich Press and Cutting It, by The Lives You Touch Publications. Since 1976, she has been the poetry editor of Veterans’ Voices, a magazine of writing by military veterans. Tina lives in Leawood, KS, with her husband Lynn Norton who is a sculptor and excellent editor.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Tina Hacker and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
A Golem* Delivers
Task: Save a child.
Can a golem be conjured from the womb?
No, of course not.
But when Jacob was born,
a small golem appeared in his parents’ yard
behind some bushes.
He looked like Jacob’s twin,
same nose, eyes, wisps of hair.
Except he was still. No baby cries,
no arms waving, exploring, discovering.
As Jacob grew,
so did his golem twin, always silent.
Both reached their fifth birthdays in 1939.
Dangerous times in Prague
after Kristallnacht in Germany.
Rumors became real;
death loitered in corners
waiting to leap out,
clasp Jews who walked by.
Jacob’s parents hid him behind a dresser
when the Nazis arrived.
As they smashed furniture,
Jacob’s mother cried out.
The boy was discovered.
Destination for all,
the Theresienstadt ghetto,
a stop on the way to killing camps.
Outraged, the golem set a plot in motion.
All the city’s Jews were rounded up,
wailing, desperate to escape.
In the chaos, the golem
blurred the air around Jacob,
rendering him invisible to the guards.
Then whispered, “Run
as fast as you can
to the red brick house
around the corner.”
The golem’s plan flooded
the minds of the couple
living there. When they saw
Jacob quaking on their doorstep,
they were resolved
to rescue this Jewish child,
secure him a place
on a Kindertransport
convoy to Britain.
were gassed. When they closed
their eyes for the last time,
they saw a vision
of their child escaping.
The final piece
of the golem’s scheme.
All three rested in peace.
*Part of Jewish folklore, a golem is a mud and dirt creature summoned from the earth to accomplish a task dictated by its creator. After fulfilling the task, the golem returns to the earth.