April 13-19: 17th Annual Yom HaShoah Issue

Our seventeenth annual Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) issue.

Alisa Velaj
Carol Lindsay
Dan Fitzgerald
Donal Mahoney
E.M. Schorb
Elzy Cogswell
Erika Dreifus
Franci Levine Grater
Hanoch Guy
Henry Howard
I.B. Rad
Ivan Klein
Janet Bowdan
Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff
Jonathan Maseng
Josh Lefkowitz
Joyce Ellen Weinstein
Judith R. Robinson
Kevin Heaton
Maja Trochimczyk
Mary Ann Castle
Michal Mitak Mahgerefteh
Michael Brownstein
Michael Virga
Nancy Shiffrin
Patrick Erickson
R. Bremner
Richard Widerkehr
Rifkah Goldberg
Rosalind J. Lee
Stacey Robinson
Stanley H. Barkan
Stephen Mead
Sy Roth
Toby Gotesman Schneier
Vince O’Connor
Waide Riddle
Wilderness Sarchild
Zvi A. Sesling

Send us your poetry for POET OF THE WEEK consideration. Click here for submission guidelines.

Alisa Velaj

Bio (auto)

Alisa Velaj (born 1982, Vlorë, Albania) is an Abanian poet whose work has appeared in a number of print and online international magazines, including “Blue Lyra Review”, “One title reviews”, ‘The Cannon’s Mouth’ (UK),‘The missing slate’ (UK), ‘The Midnight Diner’ (USA), ‘Poetica’ (USA), ‘Time of Singing’ (USA), "Canto" (USA), ‘Enhance’ (USA) “Ann Arbor Review” (USA) ‘The French Literary Review” (UK), “SpeedPoets” (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), “LUMMOX Poetry Anthology 3” (USA), “Erbacce” (UK), "fourW twenty-five Anthology" (Booranga Writers’ Centre, Australia), “Poetry Super Highway” (USA) and “Knot Magazine”(USA). She also has works in forthcoming issues of “Poetica”, “Otter”, “The Journal”, “Reunion: The Dallas Review” (USA), “The Brighter Light Poetry Anthology” (USA), Phenomenal Literature (New Delhi, India), The Atherton Review (USA) and in the Anthology by Mago Books. Alisa Velaj has been shortlisted of the annual international erbacce-press poetry award in June 2014. She is also shortlisted in the Aquillrelle Publishing Contest 3 in January 2015. Velaj’s first full-length collection of poems “A GOSPEL OF LIGHT” will be published by Aquillrelle during this year. Her poems are translated into English by Ukë ZENEL BUÇPAPAJ. Alisa Velaj lives between Vlora and Tirana, in Albania.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Alisa Velaj and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Game

We would stay somewhere
On the hill of olive trees,
Playing hide-and-seek
Until late at night,
Calling the little sweet GOLDA
“LIGHT”[1] in our childish voice…

Ravens wearing crooked crosses flew over our heads,
Fighting vainly to dictate their game to us…
English translation by Ukë ZENEL Buçpapaj

[1] Source Language (Albanian): DRITA: A name given to female children
During the Second World War, in order to protect the Hebrews from the Nazis,
we used to baptize them with names coming from our own native culture.

Carol Lindsay

Bio (auto)

Carol Lindsay of Carlsbad, California began her professional writing career over 40 years ago. Her works include human interest pieces and columns for various newspapers and magazines. Lindsay’s award winning poetry has been published in literary magazines (Old Hickory Review, The Kit-Cat Review) as well as commercial (Leatherneck, Magazine of the Marines, USA Today,) publications. The author of ten books, Lindsay was executive producer and host of Carlsbad Corner, 30-minute CCTV shows showcasing writers, musicians, and artists, and she had been featured poet for a news segment on local (KDCI) CNN headline news during National Poetry Month. In 1998, one of her poems was placed in the historic Pen Arts Building, (AKA Todd Lincoln’s mansion) Washington, D.C. As President of the Palomar Branch of the NLAPW (National League of American Pen Women), Lindsay was presented with the “Woman of Achievement Award” in Laguna Hills, California. Lindsay is a long-time member of the Academy of American Poets.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Carol Lindsay and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

A Letter and Four Numbers

She visited my children in California,
a grandma denied fulfillment as a genetic mother,
a grandma who always held out her arm
to show her tattoo,
a letter and four numbers I can’t remember.
But I do remember
this grandma fell in love
and helped a widowed man
raise two children who loved her, too.
She was a lady and also a medical doctor
with a body that had been mutilated
in a prison camp.
I remember she smiled with my father
who had served in the war
on a ship torpedoed by the Nazis.
Together they would speak
with smiles on their faces about life
in the USA today
while I pondered

a letter and four numbers
I still can’t remember.

Dan Fitzgerald

Bio (auto)

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 others. They are also included in two anthologies- Love Notes (Vagabondage Press) and Ekphrastia Gone Wild (Ain’t Got No Press). He has written off and on for a number of years and is hoping to publish two books of poetry in the near future.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Dan Fitzgerald and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I Remember You

Who will remember me
when I am gone?
No one, my heart weeps,
they are all here.
I will, a worm writes
crawling from the graves.
I will, a bird sings,
carrying the worm to the nest.
We will, the chicks chorus
learning to fly into the sky.
We will, the clouds cry
dropping your name among the rain.
Always, the earth sings,
as winter, hearing your voice,
becomes spring.

Donal Mahoney

Bio (auto)

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis Missouri. Some of his earliest work can be found at here and some of his newer work here.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Donal Mahoney and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Scene from Yom Kippur 1972

It’s Yom Kippur
this screaming hot day
in Chicago 1972.
An intermittent parade
of orthodox men are walking
in silence to synagogue,
foreheads bright
with sweat.

They’re in uniform,
black hats, black coats
over their shoulders,
continents of sweat
breaking through
white shirts,
black ties stirring
in the breeze.

Five older men
have canes.
Two others
on walkers
have snakes
on their forearms,
reptiles from Auschwitz,
Belsen, Treblinka.

The numbers
in each tattoo
may be different
but the snakes
are as much
part of their uniform
as black hats,
black coats and black ties
on this screaming
hot Day of Atonement
in otherwise
oblivious Chicago.

E.M. Schorb

Bio (auto)

E.M. Schorb’s (Mooresville, NC) latest collection of prose poems is Manhattan Spleen. Some appear in current issues of Main Street Rag, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Oxford Poetry. His novel, A Portable Chaos, is revised after winning the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction and his Resurgius: A Sixties Sex Comedy is just out.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by E.M. Schorb and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Diamond Merchant

A diamond is forever.
—B. J. Kidd

The buoys of memory have faint bells, noticed in the night.
I have left these chiming seamarks for the time of my return.
They ring out there, but faintly, so faintly I can hardly hear.
I think they want me to remember the severances of the soul,
if soul is more than mere electric tissue. If Death is king
and I do not reclaim what I have jettisoned, it goes to him.
I do not want the king to have my life. Therefore, each night at sea,
I must set out to find the ringing buoys and haul aboard
the lagan realities, for now my aging body, my emotional mal de mer,
lend renewed reality to the cold, damp camps. One numbered friend
should wear a wedding ring, another was engaged, and yet a third,
below and silent, had eyes like Tavernier blue diamonds set in Fabergé
eggshell by the master. I cannot put a name to the smiling face I see,
but she existed, who is now the faint dream of a denouement.

……Shalom alekhem……..Shalom alekhem

So now I sail all night to find them and their symbols, to
connect with them whatever seems appropriate, their rings,
their eyes, their ways: but not alone to find the persons
but to find the meanings of the persons to myself, the electric
mind, before the king should claim them from my life.

Elzy Cogswell

Bio (auto)

Elzy Cogswell, a retired librarian in Austin, Texas, was a Poet of the Week in February, 2007, under his previous name. His poetry has won prizes at the local, state and national level, including the Alabama State Poetry Society Award in 2013 and the New Jersey State Poetry Society Award in 2011. Two of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. For a brief period in his earlier life, he was a panhandler in New York City.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Elzy Cogswell and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Go On, No Matter What

Ancient Chinese wisdom says
treat death like birth.
Two million birthdays
invite too many cousins.
We could never find enough bakeries.

Idiosyncrasies never get the chance
to rouse a smile, to feel the love.

Memories of children whirl like galaxies,
descend like bluebird feathers to the road.
No monument is as hollow
as a child no longer laughing.

Erika Dreifus

Bio (auto)

Erika Dreifus is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories, a collection based largely on the experiences and histories of her paternal grandparents, German Jews who immigrated to the United States in the late 1930s. Erika lives in New York City. Visit her online at www.erikadreifus.com and follow her on Twitter @ErikaDreifus, where she tweets "on matters bookish and/or Jewish."

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Erika Dreifus and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


with thanks to Steven M. Lowenstein

My father’s parents were Germans,
and they were Jews,
and they were born long ago,
one just before and one just after
the outbreak of the war
that was to end all wars,
but didn’t.

They came to New York in ‘37 and ‘38,
met and married and had a son.
From them, I have inherited
copies of Der Struwwelpeter
and Buddenbrooks,
a fondness for Riesling,
and pünktlichkeit.

Pünktlichkeit is beyond punctuality.
It is showing up ahead of time for movies,
meetings, and medical appointments;
submitting papers and assignments
safely before their deadlines;
and returning books to the library
at least one day prior to their due dates.

Pünktlichkeit is a preemptive way of life,
and not everyone admires it.
Even Rabbi Breuer of Frankfurt,
later of Washington Heights,
scolded guests who rang his doorbell
before the agreed-upon time.
"Zu früh ist auch nicht pünktlich."

But pünktlichkeit served my grandparents well.
They left Germany before the Kristallnacht,
before the MS St. Louis, before their neighbors
were called to trains that went first to France
and then to Auschwitz. Who knows
how many reported to the railways
before the hour they were told?

("Pünktlichkeit" was originally published in Moment magazine.)

Franci Levine-Grater

Bio (auto)

Franci Levine-Grater is a writer, editor and teacher living in Pasadena, California. She is currently at work on a new as yet untitled chapbook.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Franci Levine-Grater and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


an abundance of wine
a small bag of avocados
and parentheses

wrapped and ready
in this love poem to a lost soul
on this night of six million deaths

today is a gift
that’s why it’s called the present
if this is correct, press one

Hanoch Guy

Bio (auto)

Hanoch Guy spent his childhood among cacti and citrus groves He is a bilingual poet in Hebrew and English, He is professor emeritus of Hebrew and Jewish literature at Temple university.He has published extensively and won awards in Poetica,Mad Poet society.Poetry matters and Poetry Super HighwayHanoch is the author of : The road to Timbuktu/Travel poems., Terra Treblinka; Holocaust poems, We pass each other on the stairs, Sirocco and scorpions-Poems of Israel and Palestine. Hanoch resides in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Hanoch Guy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


between veins and arteries,
vessels and capillaries
an Inventory of bone bars
between electric fences.

dark echoes explode
braked by bars
leaving a narrow place only to be
hung with a crooked body
between one shipment
and another.

Henry Howard

Bio (auto)

I am a Los Angeles human rights poet, with a particular emphasis on exposing and combatting racism and genocide. This, inevitably, includes a commitment to remembering the Holocaust, and, like a spider web cast over the earth, all its threads to events post-WWII. I was a Holocaust remembrance activist long before I became a poet, and I was involved as an international researcher with one particular case for 14 years. That only ended for me when the German author and journalist who I had been helping died of cancer, but I have continued my efforts whenever any new leads come up, however slender. I am honored to submit my work for this special issue, and I will continue in this vein until genocide, in all its horrors and against all its various targets, is banished forever from this earth.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Henry Howard and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

What I Learned From Shoes

(Maidanek Death Camp, March, 2001)

The shoes rest in lonely piles,
Unfathomable piles,
In slowly rusting cages
That squeeze visitors
Into speechless single rows,
Even though they are privileged
To walk among the living.

The shoes still seek the feet
Of their murdered owners,
Still long to tickle their soles
With care-worn leather.

They are lonely,
These forlorn treasures,
Once deftly carved
By a loving master.
Yes, they are lonely,
Even as they share the cages
With 500,000 companions.

Here and there,
A splash of color
Pulls the eye from the rotting mass
Of gray and brown nothing.
A single red shoe flashes defiantly
In the dim half-light,
As if shouting, in pain and pride,
“They killed the beautiful lady who owned me,
But they cannot kill MY beauty!”

A visitor reflects
On the meaning of that red shoe.
How many dance floors felt the click
Of its sharp, elegant heel?
What cobblestones traced its journey,
As its owner ran, breathless,
To the waiting arms of her lover?

One does not ask about the lady herself;
Her identity was destroyed by gas and fire.
Only the shoe remains to testify,
A survivor that can walk no more.

What have I learned from shoes,
As I breathe their musty, living essence
In the darkness of this death-camp barrack?

I have learned
Each shoe has a story,
And each story belongs to a person,
And if one can only understand people
By walking in another person’s shoes,
Then I have walked a mile at Maidanek
In humanity’s shoes.

We may walk alone,
Stumble alone,
Struggle alone,
But we are never truly alone.
We go forward together,
Until we die,
And our shoes live on
To tell of our journey.

I.B. Rad

Bio (auto)

I.B. Rad, Mrs. Rad, and their canine companion live in New York City. Many of I.B.’s poems can be seen on the internet , some being read by others. This poem was previously published in cc&d (scars.tv.)

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by I.B. Rad and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The approaching front

At daybreak,
forecasters predict,
the approaching front
will bring
its anticipated drizzle
of corpses
and an oppressive downpour
of traumatized and fleeing
while emanating
from the burning city
a crimson sky
will lighten
an otherwise
leaden landscape.
And the night?
Well, it’s initially dark
or darker, lacking
a scintilla of hope
save "life goes on"
and, in time,
tomorrow, most certainly,
will come

Ivan Klein

Bio (auto)

Ivan Klein lives in downtown Manhattan, is the author of Alternatives to Silence from Starfire Press and has been published in Leviathan, Flying Fish, Long Shot and the Forward among other publications. His poems appeared in the 2011 and 2013 PSH annual Yom Hashoah issues.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Ivan Klein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


— After Paul Celan’s “Conversation In The Mountains”:

….Jew Klein meets Jew Gross amid the beauty of nature from which they are chronically veiled.
….The poor saps have nothing to call their own in a place where they won’t ever belong.

….….….Loathe the little Jew!
….….….….……Loathe the big Jew!

….….….Who don’t belong,
….….……Who have nothing,
….….………Who simply offend!

Pure words green & white,
flow from the glaciers through
the center of the mountains.

Pure speech not reckoned for Klein and Gross. — A journey in speech to themselves in the mountains,
a journey to the unloved dead
..in speech tried & true.

— After Rilke’s “Duino Elegies”:

….When I had a knife & exhaled,
….….did the angels tremble?

….When I smashed the mirror
….….of my vanity,
….….….did they vanish in thin air?

Janet Bowdan

Bio (auto)

Janet Bowdan has poems forthcoming in Gargoyle, Free State Review and Wordpeace. She teaches at Western New England University and is the editor of Common Ground Review. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband, son, and sometimes a stepdaughter or two.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Janet Bowdan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Hitler Cups ‘Unintentionally’ Sold in German Store

Behind the roses, the cursive script, who’d notice
The faded swastika, the grey profile of Hitler?
Some Chinese designer picking up the old postage stamp,
Incorporated it thinking maybe to evoke nostalgia
For bygone catastrophes.
On the shelf three or four days before a sales clerk
Identified the image, they’d sold 175 ($2.70 each)
Gracing someone’s tea party
Or coffee klatsch, the matching rosy mugs, adding
Cream or sugar. Did they see whose face
Glared across the stamp behind the pretty print?
Back then who had a word to call it by? And now
Buying fish, the lady asks if I’d like to try the crab dip
And won’t take no thanks for an answer—
Allergies, she nods knowingly. No, kosher, I say
(though if I truly were I would not be there buying
Anything that shared close quarters with crustaceans)
And she says “oh!” “Oh, that’s okay,” she assures me,
Tells me how her dad was Polish
But he had many Jewish friends. The German store
Is buying back all the coffee cups with Hitler on them,
Offering $27 a cup, then smashing them. Earth to earth.

The thing is that stamp lurking in the background is rising
to the surface, that even if (or when) we think
it’s all in the past, letters arrive in the mail, someone decides
he has divine backing to go out and shoot other people,
how ’bout them crossing the parking lot, picked off
almost at random as long as they are Jews, or mistaken
for Jews due to an unfortunate proximity, as if it’s infectious.
That explains the stars, the tattoos, identity in poison ink.
The quiz asked how privileged are you, the quiz asked, have you
ever denied your religion in self-defense? No, I said.
That implies you have a chance.
And each question has the same value, as if
answering even one might not doom you.
The thing is that what rises to the surface bubbling up
is hope until it’s grief, grief. Just one immensity.

Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff

Bio (auto)

Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff is a storyteller, poet, educator, facilitator, and coach based in Baltimore, Maryland. She co-taught the Oral Histories of Holocaust Survivors course at Goucher College from 2004-2013. Jennifer is the founder and director of The Golden Door, an organization that teaches participants to tell personal and communal stories of social justice to middle school and high school students. The Jewish Women’s Archives, the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, and the Baltimore Jewish Times have published her poetry. Jennifer directs the Storyteller Teaching Training project at Krieger Schechter Day School. She performs at synagogues and schools throughout the United States. Her CD, The Growing Season, was commissioned by the Macks Center for Jewish Education. Jennifer’s original stories are featured in the books, Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration, and New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family. www.jenniferstories.com

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Fragile Window

we live during
a time
when survivors
still remember,
history’s hands
remain strong enough
to choke us

when memory
escapes, and
the hands
begin to shake,

the fragile window

we listeners,
we storytellers,
we will open it again

It is the task
of all who live
during the time
of the fragile window.

Jonathan Maseng

Bio (auto)

Jonathan Maseng lives in the city of Los Angeles, where he is a contributing writer to the Jewish Journal, as well as a playwright, screenwriter, and fifteen other different things. His work has appeared in LA Weekly, Haaretz, The Press Enterprise, Newsday, etc.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Jonathan Maseng and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Behind the Curtain

We choke and we breathe like we pray,
we choke, we believe we can pray when we won’t,
we choke when we open our mouths to breathe
but all prayer falls grey when we breathe
ashes to ashes, we choke with the soot on our lips,
with the words in our eyes — we see what we choke upon
upon you is the word, written, upon you,
and death comes from truth, death comes
from a fire that consumes when it’s summoned,
death comes from a beast with no appetite,
from a word that summons a beast and a truth,
to feast upon men who worship with fire, with fire we pray,
with fire we singe and we pray, we offer the burnings,
but gods don’t exist, there is only one truth in the fire,
only one truth that burns when it chokes, that burns
when consumed, in the hour of loons what dawns
is the ash that we fell upon, gunmetal grey like a sword,
words were never prayers, words were never truth,
the only truth is the fire that burns and that smolders.

When the flame has run out, beware the dead eaters of ash
who come bearing sermons among you, for faith has no words,
only works, and truth burns out a hole in the sky to inhale them.

We choke and we breathe like we pray,
and we pray like we’re fools,
bent kneed and bent backed til we cough up the ashes we swallow.
We choke and we pray like a Jew,
like a Jew in a camp is immortal, like a Jew in a cage turns to fire,
like a Jew burns when he chokes on the truth of the world
at the end of the railyard, at the end of his prayers.

Josh Lefkowitz

Bio (auto)

Josh Lefkowitz won the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Prize, and received an Avery Hopwood Award for Poetry at the University of Michigan. His poems and essays have been published at The Rumpus, The Huffington Post, The Hairpin, TheThePoetry, and many other venues. Additionally, he has recorded work for NPR’s All Things Considered, and BBC’s Americana. Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, he currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Josh Lefkowitz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

With Apologies To Adorno

I know that Adorno said
It is barbaric to write poetry
after Auschwitz

so I’m not really going to do so,
but I did want to share one story,
real quick, if that’s alright:

Years ago, when I was twenty-three
and living in Washington D.C.
I met a German girl, I don’t remember
her name, but she had short hair
and a very erotic accent
that made me happy to be alive,
and we ended up having sex

and the whole time we were doing it
I was thinking of Adolf Hitler,
rolling in his grave, that some
suburban-born American Jew
was now doing the deed with
one of his beautiful countrywomen.

I got a lot of pleasure out of that.

In the morning I asked, “do you feel bad
about the Holocaust?” And she said,
“well, it’s a terrible legacy that we have
to wrestle with, but all we can do is learn
how to go forward, with sensitivity and care.”

“That’s fair,” I said, and I kissed her
on the mouth with my mouth,
and took us out for a Sunday brunch –
liverwurst for her; bagels and lox for me.

Joyce Ellen Weinstein

Bio (auto)

Joyce Ellen Weinstein is a visual artist who occasionally writes poetry. She is in many permanent and private collections in the US and Europe. She is included in Fixing the World: Jewish American Artists of the Twentieth Century, published by New England University Press and The Book as Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts. She received many honors and awards and was named a Fulbright Senior Specialist Candidate; three times finalist and one time winner Metro DC Dance Awards for Scenic Design. Her website is: www.Joyceellenweinstein.com. She lives in New York City.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Joyce Ellen Weinstein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

In the Forests of Lithuania

In the forests of Lithuania
Where bones and birch grow
Side by side
With lindens, limbs, and legs.

No amount of cutting or pruning
Can hide what once was sown
Buried deep within the rich dark soil
In monstrous mounds
Pitiful pits of death.

Judith R. Robinson

Bio (auto)

Judith R. Robinson, of Pittsburgh, Pa, is an editor, teacher, fiction writer and poet. A 1980 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers and anthologies.* She is author of The Beautiful Wife, fiction, four poetry collections; editor or co-editor of eleven poetry collections/anthologies. Visit Judith on the web here: www.judithrrobinson.com

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Judith R. Robinson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Israel Iwler and His Peaceful Cow

After seven hundred
days of night
he emerged,
a stunned Jew-bird
on bleeding
hands and knees,
light-blinded by
the years in his
deep cave home.

He came into
the presence of
the green-sprung
world again,
and remembered:

a sun, a moon,

the roof of stars.

It was when
he saw his own
cow, dumb, peaceful,
and not frightened
in the quiet field,
that he fell down

and howled;
beneath a drift of
wind and heedless blossoms
he clawed and wept
and tore apart
the abundant ground.

Kevin Heaton

Bio (auto)

Kevin Heaton is originally from Kansas and Oklahoma, and now lives and writes in Aiken, South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Guernica, Rattle, Slice Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Adroit Journal, and Verse Daily. He is a Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Kevin Heaton and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Why You did this to Me?

While My father stood sentry
at Dachau; a skull spoke to him
and said: “Why you did this to me?”

When he told me this,
he cried.

Maja Trochimczyk

Bio (auto)

Maja Trochimczyk, PhD, of Los Angeles, is a Polish-born poet, music historian, and photographer. She published six books on music and five of poetry: Rose Always, Miriam’s Iris, Chopin with Cherries, Meditations on Divine Names, and Slicing the Bread. Hundreds of her essays and poems appeared in English, Polish, as well as in German, French, Chinese, Spanish and Serbian translations, in such journals as The Loch Raven Review, Epiphany Magazine, Lily Review, SVGPQ, Cosmopolitan Review, The Scream Online, Clockwise Cat, Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, PSH, Lummox Journal and other venues. www.trochimczyk.net.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Maja Trochimczyk and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Bees and the Breeze

They were dying in the gas chamber.
First he heard yelling, distinct screams
then it quieted down, sounded like the buzzing
of bees in the bee-hive, muted, distant,
low murmuring, and then,
after twenty minutes – silence.

Her father was just fifteen, but he was strong.
In Majdanek, his job was to go in
and carry them out after that.

* * *

Not bees, her mother said, the whole Ponary forest
was singing. Distant voices carried by wind
above treetops. Oooooh, Aaaaaah.
The screams floated in and out
with the breeze –barely heard, attenuated.

The shots were louder, went on all day
like an army of mad woodpeckers,
drilling a hole in your brain.

Mary Ann Castle

Bio (auto)

Mary Ann Castle lives in the Bronx, New York.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Mary Ann Castle and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Pleasant Bay Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

Today there’s entertainment at Pleasant Bay Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
A trio: accordion, violin, even a singer
The small room is filled with people with walkers, wheelchairs, health aids
a few “residents” enter slowly
by themselves
to find chairs

I can’t give you anything but love
Blue Skies
Rozhinkes mit mandlen
Besame Mucho

Now comes: Shein vidi livone and Abi gezunt

At the program’s end, a tiny woman under 5 feet
……..88 maybe 90 a shock of white hair drawn back at the neck
approaches the violinist

Quietly, fondly gazing at the violin, she stretches out her tiny arm to stroke it
“I played the violin for 12 years”
“Why did you stop?”
“Hitler happened”
..He happened

Michal Mitak Mahgerefteh

Bio (auto)

Michal (Mitak) Mahgerefteh is an award-winning poet and artist from Israel, living in Virginia since 1986. She is author of four poetry collections and the editor and publisher of Poetica Magazine. www.michalmahgerefteh.com

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Michal Mitak Mahgerefteh and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Ghosts of  Europe

Inspired by a photograpgh by Shing

I alone wander this rural mountain,
sharpened gravestones like teeth in
the cruelly exposed mouth of winter

my shoulders stiffen, eyes tire from
unblinking vigilance. I dart the moon’s
silhouette above icy branches starved

for the luminescence of sun-snowy day.
Shadows of the fallen fists swiftly charge
the air with the unspeakable denial of six

million dead whose chorus, unbound
by time will never cease until the dirge
...................enfolds the world.

Michael Brownstein

Bio (auto)

Michael H. Brownstein is the English Specialist for Lincoln University’s Academic Support Center in Jefferson City, Missouri.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Michael Brownstein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

How a World Ends

Under the shell of storm,
under a sun of baked clay,
near the fence of shadow,
near the braided wire and German
shepherds, within the stench of heat
and factory, within a disease of
hate and a homecoming of hate:

Here they labored because of guns
and prejudice, evil and orders.

How can I say the world ended
in 1936, in 1939, in the 1940’s
when a world still exists?
I can say this when one life
sacrificed to hatred vanishes
from the world of the living,
then, yes, the world has ended.

Michael Virga

Bio (auto)

Michael Virga wrote this broem after recently viewing the 2015 Film Series sponsored by the Holocaust Education Center in his home-city, Birmingham, AL.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Michael Virga and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

parallel universe

after The Notebook
(Le Grand Cahier)

twin brothers
learn from each
other self

journaling the same autobiography
fraternal instinct over barbed distances

2 leaves
from the same notebook

leave without falling
running parallel
leave by elevation

Nancy Shiffrin

Bio (auto)

Nancy Shiffrin has 2 poetry collections in print: The Vast Unknowing Infinity Publishing BN.com and Game With Variations unibook.com. Her reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Lummox Journal, and poetix.net. She resides in Santa Monica.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Nancy Shiffrin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


"my father was a good person
until they took his glasses"
the Student claims
to be the daughter of Pol Pot’s Butcher
the man I mentioned in a poem
who burned vaginas shocked testicles
ten years old forced to watch
she grasped her father’s sacrifice
"he did it so I could escape
I made it past land mines
a nice couple adopted me in Thailand
I’m an American citizen
I read your book! I’ve been looking for you!"
I feel her breath on my face
her final paper discusses the gulags
she tries to understand Stalin’s position
Freshman Composition
I can accept anything well argued

one day without correction
spouting whales merge with glistening waters
scolding squirrels blend with bark
I can’t read write drive a car
life before myopia
at five jumping fearlessly to catch a ball
then six years old measles darkened room
reading with flashlight return to school
unable to see strings on marionettes
first frames spangles in the rims
High School Geometry humiliation
at the blackboard "F" for faulty calculation
my uncle offers laser surgery
he can’t comprehend why I need three prescriptions
"you will look like a movie star!" he promises

"of course they took the spectacles first"
the Poet speaks of Auschwitz
her parents endured the forest
her grandparents the camp
she describes rat stew leaves twigs
contraband salt smuggled wine surreptitious prayer
her Bobbe tussling with bunkmates for blanket room
giggling like a girl at a pajama party
raised Catholic in Poland my Friend
learned silence in the schoolroom
drank blood soup in the mountains
now bows to Inanna
"after release everyone searched piles
found shoes and lenses that worked”

I imagine the concentrated beam in my cornea
would my eyes resemble pansies?
would I focus the microscope and not crash the slide?
suppose it were my niece on the table?
suppose it were she who ran?
I roam the dismal streets worrying about The Book
Cousins and Colleagues stare down from lit windows
is there time for completion? time for amends?
who might I become without
the pressure on my nose
the adjustment for the middle distance?

included in The Vast Unknowing
Infinity Publishing

Patrick Erickson

Bio (auto)

Patrick Theron Erickson lives in Garland, Texas, a suburb east of Dallas, not so affectionately called the armpit of the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth metroplex. With this submission Patrick’s avocation goes without saying. As for vocation, he is a parish pastor, a shepherd of sheep, a small flock with no sheep dog and no hang-dog expression. Or he is the sheep dog, a small dog, with the hang-dog expression. Secretariat is his mentor, though he has never been an achiever and has never gained on the competition. He resonates to a friend’s definition of change; though a bit dated with the advent of wi fi, it has the ring of truth to it: change coming at us a lot faster because you can punch a whole lot more, a whole lot faster down digital broadband "glass" fiber than an old copper co-axial landline cable.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Patrick Erickson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Fat Chance 2

Alois Brunner
strong right arm
of Adolph Eichmann
during the heyday
of the Holocaust

responsible for deporting
more than 125,000 European Jews
to Nazi death camps
during World War II

Confused with another Brunner, Anton
Anton was hanged for war crimes
Alois escaped

He died
so it is said

his one regret
that he did not kill
more Jews

The fall of the Berlin Wall
halted one extradition attempt

He also survived
two bomb blasts

The Jews deserved to die
he said

If I had the chance
I would do it again

Pray history
never repeats itself.

Garland, TX
December 2014

R. Bremner

Bio (auto)

R. Bremner lives in Glen Ridge, NJ, USA, with his beautiful sociologist wife, their brilliant son, and their excitable puppy Ariel. He’s a regular contributor to poetsonline.org , and has appeared in International Poetry Review, the Journal of Formal Poetry, and Paterson Literary Review among others. He poemreads at lots of venues regularly, and is often mistaken for the mythical Jersey Devil. He has traveled extensively, especially to Sri Lanka, the birthplace of his wife. He likes you to visit him at http://www.pw.org/content/r_bremner.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by R. Bremner and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know

The right lens of my spectacles is lost
But I can see (with some difficulty).
My shoes are filthy with who knows what
But I walk, while others cannot.
My teeth are strong, my legs are weary
But they serve me as well as they can.
My ribs could use some meat
But at least they’re not cracked, only bruised.

Sadie is gone. Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone.
So why do I try to go on?
I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know.
Someday somehow this may change
But better or worse will it be?
I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know.

Richard Widerkehr

Bio (auto)

Richard Widerkehr (Bellingham, Washington) won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan and received his M.A. from Columbia University, which he attended on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Two book-length collections of his poems were published in 2011: The Way Home (Plain View Press) and Her Story of Fire (Egress Studio Press). Tarragon Books published his novel, Sedimental Journey, about a geologist. Recent work has appeared in Rattle, Floating Bridge Review, Jewish Literary Journal, and Poetry Super Highway where he won second prize in their contest. He has poems forthcoming in Nomad’s Choir Poetry Review, Clay Bird Review, Penumbra, Pennine Ink, Crack The Spine, and Gray Sparrow.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Richard Widerkehr and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Five Marks, Bundesrepublik

As prompts for our poems this morning,
you offer snapshots and one coin, an eagle,
wings outspread. Who pulled it from the fire,
this broken song? You can’t know I’m learning
my Hebrew consonants like stones, vowels,
small dots and dashes. No, you can’t know
my high-school girlfriend’s father, a courtly
man with blue numbers on his wrist, never
talked about the Holocaust. Perhaps, you’ve
heard Roosevelt refused to bomb the train tracks
leading to the death camps? I know almost
nothing about the side of my family
that vanished. In your photo,
cherry trees blossom in Munich.
In an art gallery near the Tiergarten,
citizens gaze at abstract paintings on white walls.
At a train station in Paris under fluorescent lights,
men and women file off a ghost-gray train,
and I wonder if, on Rosh Chodesh, evening of a new
moon just minted, a certain angel rides above train stations,
asking, “Why?” and another angel asks, “Why not?”

Rifkah Goldberg

Bio (auto)

Rifkah (Rita) Goldberg writes poetry and aphorisms, and is a long-time oil painter. She has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cambridge University, and works as a freelance writer and editor. Born in London in 1950, she has been living in Jerusalem since 1975, has two sons and nine grandchildren, and is married to the writer Shalom Freedman.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Rifkah Goldberg and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

My Father’s Friend

On my father’s annual visits
To these bright blue skies
He would make more friends
Than I have in almost forty years

Particularly in a prefab on the next corner
A man who ran a small synagogue
Proudly born in the same year
Chassidic backgrounds drawing them close

Wanted to welcome him in the new building
But my father passed away too soon
So I put up ark curtains there
Specially inscribed in his memory

On her visits my mother continued going there
And would speak to my father’s friend
In their mother tongue Hungarian
And in time I memorialized her there too

Last week my father’s friend passed away
In a visit to comfort his wife
Made unrecognizable by disease
No longer able to leave her home

Finally found out something about
The man with the constant but nervous smile
Survivor of a large Marmarosh family
Butchered during the Holocaust

Pioneer who fought
In the Katamon area
Where he set up his home
And raised four daughters

Long-time Ministry of Welfare worker
As retiree worked to rebuild local synagogue
And set up organization to help handicapped children
A good man left his mark and we all go on as if he never were

Rosalind J. Lee

Bio (auto)

I grew up with strangers, traveled a little. Worked with people who interested me. Was often sad. Felt I had lost more than I knew. (Nearest city: Norwich, UK)

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Rosalind J. Lee and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

on: The Importance of Words.

Sometimes I’d think I was dead before I was born.
Limp legs, twisted limbs. Arms that moved slack
in the slight breeze. The cot wound metal arms
around me to contain me. The cold threat not

optional, no comfort in the thin blanket. Over
the cot was a word. Stark on white paper.
Black letters – that the Nurses pointed at.
The monster children, dark babies. Two left.

The boy who was not my twin in the cot next to me, cried.
Over his cot the black letters spat hatred at me.
He was thin as an Amsterdam dwarf, all his royal
features edged with flint. He didn’t want

to be his word. I crowded his world with my one
word. Neither word was the one we started with.
The Nurses poked through the bar with iron fingers
to see if we were fatter than they expected.

The oven was waiting. On our faces we had numbers
not words. The numbers made us expendable…
One word kept a child alive. Sometimes…
our words killed us. Later I lost all meaning.

Stacey Robinson

Bio (auto)

Stacey is a single mom. She sings whenever she can, and writes, even when she can’t. She has worked in Corporate America for a long time; now she works at her writing. She’s been published in several anthologies, and her book, Dancing in the Pam of God’s Hand, will be out soon from Hadassa Word Press. Find her, her poetry and essays and general thoughts on meaning and doubt and faith on her blog (http://staceyzrobinson.blogspot.com) and her website (www.stumblingtowardsmeaning.com)

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Stacey Robinson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Counting Infinity

I wonder about the
infinity of light
that shattered
in a single Breath –
and the dust of Adam
that scattered, a
sweeping whirlwind of
limitless everywhere upon
the earth, and the stars
that Abraham counted –
and distant,
and cold fire.

We counted
time by moonlight
and threads of
blue –
Exquisitely finite
and eternal,
a holy cadence
of one
plus one
plus one again
a never-ending measure
of binding
and grace.

So I wonder,
with all the counting
of all the endlessness
of stars and dust
and light
and time
and one
plus one
plus One –

what happens when
six million –
when twelve million –
when a thousand –
when a single
is taken
from infinity

Stanley H. Barkan

Bio (auto)

Stanley H. Barkan is the editor-publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications, a small literary arts, non-commercial press focusing on bilingual poetry, which has, to date, published some 400 titles in 50 different languages. His own work, which has been translated into 25 different languages, has been published in 17 different collections, several others of which are bilingual (Bulgarian, Chinese, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Sicilian). His three latest books, Sailing the Yangtze (translated into Chinese by Hong Ai Bai)and Tango Nights (both published by The Feral Press, 2014), and The Machine for Inventing Ideals / Ma?ina de Inventat Idealuri, a shared bilingual (English/Romanian) edition with Daniel Corbu, translated by Olimpia Iacob (Ia?i, Romania: Princeps Multimedia, 2014). Among the many honors he has received, he most treasures the 2011 Korean Expatriate Literature Association award “for his contribution to the promotion of the globalization of Korean literature through exchanges of Korean and American poetry” and Peter Thabit Jones’s special 2014 “Stanley H. Barkan” tribute issue of the Swansea, Wales-based international poetry magazine, The Seventh Quarry, published with a gathering of poems and interviews and photos and art by the many poets and writers and translators and photographers and artists Stanley has worked with during the last four decades. He lives with his artist wife, Bebe, in Merrick, Long Island, New York.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Stanley H. Barkan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Mothertree

For Blumke Katz

before the tree
in the middle
of the cemetery,
she prayed
for her mother,
buried somewhere
in that mass grave:
for her
and so many
other murdered
mothers & fathers,
sisters & brothers
there in the middle of
Svintsyán, Lithuania,
lost shtetl
in the middle
of Eastern Europe
where Jews
bought & sold,
cooked & ate,
studied & prayed
worked & dreamed.

Mama, where are you?
All those long years
far away in cold,
oh so cold, Siberia,
each night I spoke
with you
in my sleep.
You were just a dream.
Now—at last—
after the Germans
with their brownshirts left,
and the Russians
with their redshirts also left,
I have returned,
I have awakened,
I am here—
but where are you?

Dear Tree,
………………..Dear Mother,

………………..v’yiskadash . . .

Stephen Mead

Bio (auto)

As a writer and artist publishing for the last three decades, Stephen Mead has finally gotten around to getting links to his poetry still online at various zines available in one place: http://stephenmead.weebly.com/links-to/poetry-on-the-line-stephen-mead His latest Amazon release is entitled "Our Spirit Life”", a poetry/art meditation on family heritage, love, and the evanescence of time. For Christmas 2014 he released a sound collage song cycle, "Threnody for a Forgotten Plague", a series-in-progress, dealing with the early days of the AIDS Pandemic, free to listen to via http://amazingtunes.com/stephenmead/albums/24122

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Stephen Mead and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Needing the Lies

Spices, a poultice—–
Mustard, ash, salt—–
Time is crawling in an ooze,
The blur of fevers wafting,
A sticky itch, persistent,
This suspicion
That doors of disappointment
Are beginning to swing…
Cranes, cranes
Represent the spirit, the white,
The eastern wings of monogamous
Cranes for the souls of soldiers,
Cranes for us in our origami
Of connected tissue…

Water, wind—–
The quintessential we
Borne aloft by these elements,
Carried forward to the Beyond
Of volcanic basalt five fathoms under…

Right off our coast a ship goes down, &,
On the air, 24 wars, one for each hour,
Brings fresh reports that peace
Would be newsworthy…

Oh cranes,
Deliver a poultice.
Years later the cattle cars still chuff & I grow,
A volcano, violent with tenderness,
Needing belief in the home

Sy Roth

Bio (auto)

He lives in Mount Sinai New York, and he often thinks of the many who were lost. His writing revisits them often.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Sy Roth and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

all they could see

was the mud blackened deposits
beneath the roiling, red sea
only their blind forward movement
progress in a firmament on non-miracles;
only mud below,
oodles of the viscous stuff
soil ret with earthly deposits
a subastral, gooish effluvium,
oozing squishily around mud-wrapped toes
and old women wailing
as they fall flat-faced into the mash

they could not hear the desperate hoof beats,
the curdling voices slogging through the mud
nor the waters inundating the truculent horde
swallowed whole into the turgid waters
while the bondsmen waded to the shore

eschewing thanks to one another–
back-clapped sighs and the mud temporality left behind
owed them nothing
victory of the feet
loss in the mud-stained eyes.

Toby Gotesman Schneier

Bio (auto)

Toby Gotesman Schneier is a known painter of Judaic/Holocaust Art ,as well as an established blogger of the famed,"I AM GODESS XREBBITZIN" . Both of her parents having survived Auschwitz, she brings a certain "AUTHENTICITY" to the work, consistently reminding everyone that "Tragedy does not occur in Black & White"…She resides in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Visit Toby on the web http://tobygotesmanschneier.com and http://iamgodessxrebitzin.blogspot.com/

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Toby Gotesman Schneier and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Never Forget

We remember the plague of German Reach to exterminate and annihilate our people…
The unimaginable reality that this Evil Force had such power…such legs beneath it…
We remember that MILLIONS of innocents were heaped in piles as though they were old, stained burlap…
ready to be burnt as a result of only their uselessness…
We remember that our simple ability to "trust" was forever lost during these calamitous years…
We became something MORE than a "PEOPLE"…
We became a "CAUSE" somehow…
Our innocence was buried along with our families beneath the rubble of bodies there in the notorious "Camps"….
We now are forever saddled with the almost insurmountable MISSION of
"moving on"….of "living well"….
of attaining success…happiness…even freedom ….
while all at once "putting history aside" and "NEVER FORGETTING"….
for ultimately…
This is our destiny….

Vince O’Connor

Bio (auto)

Vince O’Connor lives in Ely, MN and has published poetry in various print and online publications, articles for numerous magazines, and has a play, "Nearly Departed," published by Players Press. http://vinceoconnor.com/

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Vince O’Connor and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


cause they smelled of sulfur
cause they tortured hosts
caused children’s blood conversion to matzah and red wine

cause they were filthy
cause they were poor
caused typhus and the plague

cause they stabbed Germany in the back
cause they had polluted blood
caused a biological struggle for the entire human race

cause they were rich
cause they sold glittering trash
caused the economy to collapse

cause they were socialists
cause they were Bolsheviks
caused the Russian revolution

cause they were assimilated
cause they were converted
caused a threat to German Volk

cause they were human beings like
………fleas were animals

cause a goat does not become a horse
……..even if its forefathers were in the same stall

cause they could

cause they did

Waide Riddle

Bio (auto)

Waide Riddle lives in Los Angeles. He is the winner of seven American poetry awards. Many of his poems and short stories are archived in the UCLA Library of Special Collections. Besides writing, Waide loves reading great ghost stories. His favorite author is Robert McCammon. Mr. Riddle is a proud and long time member of SAG/ AFTRA.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Waide Riddle and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Cold and worn, I sit crouched in the corner of the train.
My clothes and hopes are torn, too.
Gloom paints my mind. God has turned blind.
In the snow there is death and stain.
Cold winds sting… I shiver to sleep.
My family and friends huddle close… as the train stops… slowly.
I peer outside, lanterns and lights lit.
I see the sign and I shudder:

Welcome To Auschwitz

I am separated. Insulted. Harassed. Humiliated.
Branded with a pink triangle.
I close my eyes hoping to be taken away by my guardian angel.
I am led to a small prison- like hole.
Others like me, their spirits stole.
Gaunt. Starved. Rot and poison, forced to eat.
The guards take me down- hold me to the ground.
They spit and they rape me… laughing,
"You queer kike, we know you like!"
They all take turns as my friends watch in a trance,
others prefer to shut their eyes, only to periodically glance.
The German Nazi bastards!
They have made a theatrics of me.
Day after day. One by one. My friends disappear…
With tears in my eyes I fear.
I am so thin I can barely stand. I am weak.
They’re trying to kill me. I pray them to be damned.

Today is gray.
The world is snowing and moaning.
Led one by one we are stripped.
The moment terrifying, insanity fully gripped.
Then commanded to run.
For them it’s all fun.
Suddenly they aim their guns.
I don’t look back on this mounting attack.
Shots are fired and bodies collapse.
I am so slow… my feet numb.
I give myself up, body and soul.
My wasted body falls with a thud in the snow.
I can no longer move. How I long to feel my mother’s hands sooth.
A boot stomps my face. Blood I taste. The snow is splattered.
The flesh on my face tattered.
For an instant, in my mind, I see my family,
separated from me.
I watched them ushered into the showers.
Doors close. Screams. Agony.
I could do nothing. The stench of their deaths absorbed in my skin.
An omen soon coming.
Ice fills my mouth.
My eyes no longer can shut.
The black seeping and surrounding.
The pain in my body released.
Death becoming.

Wilderness Sarchild

Bio (auto)

Wilderness Sarchild, from Brewster, MA, is an expressive arts therapist, poet, playwright, and grandmother of five. She is presently co-writing a play about women and aging entitled, "Wrinkles, the Musical.” She has written, directed, and/or performed in other productions concerning social justice issues, including gender, racism, breast cancer, 9/11, ecology, and modern day slavery.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Wilderness Sarchild and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Temples of Genocide

The Cambodian killing fields:
Bones everywhere.
Skulls enclosed in great temples.
During heavy rain,
teeth and cartilage
rise from the mud.

Battered suitcases
names still attached— Haim Hoffmann,
Ilona Aron, Arul Vachtenheim.
And thousands of shoes.
We chant their names, time for two
thousand names, there are nine
million names; face down
on the earthen floor of the barracks
I taste the dirt that holds their DNA .

I collect skulls— a coyote
my husband found in a Colorado canyon
when he stooped down to take a shit,
a marmoset that I traded for
in the Amazon Jungle, various raccoons
rabbits and birds. I keep them
on holy places around my house,
altars where I sit
to pray, to talk to my mother,
my father, my son’s friend
who took his own life.

In Auschwitz the rabbi has us pray
for the Nazis; I pray the alphabet
and leave the rest
to God.

Zvi A. Sesling

Bio (auto)

Zvi A. Sesling has published in numerous magazines. He edits Muddy River Poetry Review and publishes Muddy River Books. He authored King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street Press, 2010) and a chapbook Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva, 2011). His volume, Fire Tongue, is due from Cervena Barva Press. He lives with his wife, Susan J. Dechter in Brookline, MA.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Zvi A. Sesling and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Holocaust Survivor

I saw him on the subway
………..the tattoo clearly visible


on his left forearm
………..in blue, like a vein

not many people on the train
………..probably noticed or knew

what it meant
………..or the badge of courage

it represented:
………..a survivor of the Holocaust

and more – a survivor of
………..a concentration camp,

the horror of death
………..behind his eyes

as he glanced at me
………..knowing I understood

the meaning of those numbers
………..as if they were a part of me,

as if I too wore them,
………..just by knowing.

He was a small man,
………..perhaps eighty years old,

maybe only in his seventies
………..but looking older

for what he had been through
………..the terrible things

he must have seen
………..when the Germans

slaughtered his people
………..as if they were

meaningless cattle.
………..Perhaps his family

was among them as were
………..so many families –

their culture and history
………..handed down from

father to son in the ancient tradition,
………..the holidays celebrated

with meaning, an annual reminder
………..of the history of the Jewish people,

celebrated in light and warmth
………..and the comfort of home,

with family and, perhaps,
………..a few friends,

a festive time for joy and prayer
………..recalling the hardship

of the forefathers, but no hardship
………..like the tattooed survivor

who saw what human eyes
………..should never see:

piles of gold nuggets
………..extracted from Jewish mouths,

gold rings pried from
………..Jewish fingers stiff and cold,

jewelry taken from Jewish women
………..as broken promises of freedom

or scraps of bread for children
………..whose fate diamonds could not alter

who smelled what human nostrils
………..should never smell:

rotting human flesh, burning human flesh,
………..the camps where life was death,

a living hell
………..where devils wore swatzikas

worshipped an anti-god,
………..evil forever scarring

the hearts and souls of the human race,
………..yet there remains this survivor

who lived in a time
………..in which no human should have to live

who survived when others perished
………..his story is unknown

except for the tattoo
………..the look behind the eyes

that reveals the pain of his life,
………..suffered and remembered

each day, each hour, each minute.
………..For how can a conscience forget

such evil, such destruction, such death,
………..yet the survivor exits the trolley

walking slowly, holding the woman
………..who is his wife, the walk revealing

a different pain which he must also endure
………..each day as a reminder of man’s inhumanity

to man, a deed worse than any in history,
………..though others today try to trivialize it

by robbing its name – Holocaust
………..as if any tragedy could match

the gruesome truth of
………..Auschwitz or Dachau

Treblinka or Bergen-Belsen
………..as if a death for political gain

can equal the genocide of
………..six million people

merely because they were born
………..Jews in Europe and lived there

practiced their faith
………..when others had none

save the gods of war and murder
………..the others, with no hope followed,

because it is easier to blame
………..the weak and oppressed;

the ones who are different,
………..than to acknowledge their own weakness.

It is easier to throw rocks
………..than to build homes,

to burn books than to read them,
………..easier to leave fields unplowed

and march to war
………..easier to kill than to save lives.

This survivor had seen it all and
………..survived to ride the trolley

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