April 12-18, 1999: 1st Annual Yom Hashoah Issue

Week of April 12-April 18, 1999

In Honor of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) we present ten poets
responding to the atrocities in World War II in which Six Million Jews
were murdered, including one and a half million children

Steven Jones
Alan Kaufman
Robert O’Sullivan Schleith
Frank Pool
Julia Stein

Terry Bat Sonja


I was born in South Africa and have lived in various places Israel and Ireland, NYC & the East coast,  and now Im In Southern California I am a painter, multi media artist,  and a very unconventional quilt maker, who has also always written both prose and poetry there is a strong connection between art and poetry anyway

Due to some fairly intense events in my life I began to write poetry seriously, about two years ago Its very addictive and now I cant stop .don’t want to I have two sons a husband and four cats and I don’t own any of them but adore all of them.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Terry Bat Sonja and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

That’s why

He showed us how to do it,
in the morning, hold both hands up, 
little fingers touching
water pouring through, the lacy holes
they are the the bowl,
with them
you purify
each day
it was my birthday, she came,
She is 74
we all sat listening to her,
she sat, in 1940 something
in a room full of the gestapo
and simply lied to them She was 19,
passed herself off as Folk- German
told them amazing simple stories Her husband being circumcised, hid working as a maid to German woman,
marched by the Italians into Switzerland,
lived in “neutral’ Switzerland on cement floors
subsistence food, slave labor Oh
neutral, neutral Switzerland!
My sons listen closely
they have never heard this live,
and at a birthday between bites of cake She is so little,
cuddly , a grandmother,
my Slavic eyes
from Croatia
she makes wonderful art
lives alone with these memories
her husband, jumping into the ditch,
the two South African solders
.who befriended him on the death march;
how he jumped into the ditch and
they urinated around him,
this way the dogs would not smell him I think :they saved him with urine Quietly
we listen,
eat the cake, later she drives away,
her birthday gift to me,
a delicate gold butterfly
with a rose in its center.

Salvatore Amico M Buttaci


Salvatore Amico M Buttaci is the former Editor of NEW WORLDS UNLIMITED (1974-1988),  and of POETIDINGS, the newsletter of the New Jersey Poetry Society, Inc (1995-1997) His poems and short stories have recently appeared in OPUS, poetrymagazine.com, THE MANHATTANITE, APHELION: WEBZINE OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY,  GREENWICH VILLAGE GAZETTE, and NORTH RIVER REVIEW A collection of his poetry entitled PROMISING THE MOON, and his most recent book A FAMILY OF SICILIANS: STORIES AND POEMS are both available
Sal lives in Lodi, New Jersey, with the love of his life, his wife Sharon.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Salvatore Amico M Buttaci and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


Midway between body and spirit
these emaciated human shells once caught up in
life’s sweet laughter (once women & men with dreams)
now tarry in our bedroom darkness, brief respite
from their 40-year Exodus out of the land of Bondage:
atrocious nightmare Unblinking eyes that have stared down death now peer
from behind window curtains, hands openly tremble,
mouths in feeble motion (the wing-beating of small
harmless insects) open & close, reciting Kaddish
for the millions journeying now towards rest You sleep beside me Do you dream for once
you are the grandchild of die Grossmutter und der
Grossvater and at the picnic they say they love you?

Sharon DeVries


Published only on the internet so far, I’ve been writing since I was a child In celebration of National Poetry Month, I promised myself to spread my wings and my poetry I live and work in Phoenix,  Arizona (for an international hotel chain) This poem was written as a challenge to write a villanelle-first I had to find out what that was I am not a college student of poetry but a student of life’s poetry.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Sharon DeVries and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Death Drums in Your Head
(a Villanelle)

Death drums in your head,
echoing in the fertile valley like
thundering hearts of the dead
Gray ash drifting like a ghostly thread,
entombs silence in the windless air
muting death drums in your head
Cries of agony, screams of dread;
chanting out a death knell air,
to thundering hearts of the dead
Nazi lies told, with hands outspread;
plead in sobs for a judgment fair,
wail like death drums in your head
Prosecutors plead for those who bled;
seeking peaceful vindication for,
the thundering hearts of the dead
Unrepentant murderers stare,
as God imparts the verdict there Justice sings, like death drums in your head Rejoice, thundering hearts of the dead!

Renee Carter Hall


RENEE CARTER HALL (San Diego, California) has had poetry published in several small press journals, including Cotyledon, Lilliput Review, and Luna Negra She also edits and publishes Limestone Circle, a poetry quarterly (E-mail renjef@earthlink.net for more information ) “Shower, in Remembrance” appeared previously in Ship of Fools

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Renee Carter Hall and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Shower, in Remembrance

A pull, a twist, and the stream begins,
first cool to my hesitant skin, then warming I restrain it to just below hot and step in What they wouldn?t have given for this water
in a darker place and time–
what they did give My mind wanders as
I lather the shampoo, thinking of them–
they who had no hair left to wash, stripped
and shorn and herded in This was
to be the last step And it was I rinse, in this water
that would have meant the future,
that would have meant life to them,
if only I could take it there,
reroute the pipes and pump through time A push stops the flow;
the last drops hit the floor
by the drain,
each echoing the other,
until I stand in silence, feeling
so terribly cold.

Larry Jaffe


Larry Jaffe lives and writes in Los Angeles where he co-hosts a weekly reading series at the Moondog Cafe on Melrose He also runs the website lgjaffe.com
which received the Favorite Individual Poets Page award in the 1998 Poetry Super Highway awards
The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Larry Jaffe and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


listen closely
you can still hear the sound
of the third reich marching
it hasn’t gone away
listen as
boots jackhammer
across pavements and boardrooms
listen as
crowds shout in streets
as terror rises from
asphalt paved with bones
you can still hear them scream
you can still hear hitler scream
you can still hear the dead rattle

sieg heil
(jackhammer boots march on asphalt )
sieg heil
(arms goose step)
sieg heil
(jackhammer boots click heels)

heil hitler
(arms shoot up)

sieg heil
(boots again click heels)

la chiam
(arms pumped fists)

la chiam
(arms never waver)

grief stricken relatives
should not hold hands
they should build fists
not excuses

Steven Jones


Picture yourself sitting in a San Francisco coffee house In your right hand is a cup of your favorite blend .not the flavored stuff, you’ve evolved beyond that .finally Your left hand holds a book of creative works by an obscure author you found left by the previous patron You left your Wall Street Journal on the bus so this would have to do As you start to read, you notice the strangers coming in and out of this little place as they are announced by the bell above the door and you wonder what their story is What have they seen, who have they loved, why did they leave? You go back again to your reading and it soon becomes clear that this author of “Black Pearl” once sat in your chair and asked the same questions You read looking for a hint of the answers

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Steven Jones and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Shooting Stars

While I added tattooed numbers
to their sum upon his arm
He recalled the falling children,
the bleeding of the “muselmanner”
The years when sailors lost their way
on every sea on every ocean
Because those Wagner operas
went so well with shooting stars Where was mama’s scent and touch
or voice to sing a lullaby?
She had fallen gaunt and naked
from the fragrance of the Reich flower Papa fell when Einstazkcommandos
didn’t like the boots he wore
And added his old worn size eights
to the mounds of shoes and glasses On moon lit nights, camp guards loved
Wagner operas and shooting stars
To watch them fall from heavens eyes,
open mouthed and out of life Morning came and found them stacked,
those little broken marionettes,
Beyond the concertina wire
lay the Polish children’s choir.

Alan Kaufman


Alan Kaufman, San Francisco poet and author of “Who Are We” gained notoriety spearheading the publication of Davka Magazine He’s co-edited the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and currently resides online at http://www.tattoojew.com

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Alan Kaufman and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

My Mother Doesn’t Know
Who Allen Ginsberg Is

“Ginsberg” she asks by phone “Is that your friend from Israel?”
“He’s a famous poet” I explain “I’ve been invited with
him and Kathy Acker to a Jewish festival in Berlin “
“Acker” says my mother, her voice cross “This is a Jewish name?”

My Mother doesn’t know
who Allen Ginsberg is She doesn’t know who Anne
Waldman is, or Charles Bukowski My mother doesn’t know that I make
a kind of living on stages
screaming my heart out
to strangers at five hundred dollars a pop,
and that there’s some debate about whether
or not what I and others like me do should be considered
poetry My mother was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 She was 12 then She’s 60 now She lives in Florida,
where every so often a German tourist gets shot
To my mother, that is poetry

My mother doesn’t like the idea of a Berlin
Jewish festival She cannot understand what
Jews feel festive about over there “And what is this ‘celebration’ for?” she asks coldly And changes the subject before I can answer “So, what will you do there?” she asks “Give lectures?”
“We’ll read our works” I say ” talk in panel discussions “
“Talk?” she says “In English, I hope!”
My mother doesn’t like the sound of German “It’s a funny thing” she says “I see the tourists
on the beach, in their bathing suits what could be more
harmless? But when I hear them speak I
imagine them in uniforms, and become afraid “
My mother sees Germans in bathing suits
transformed into Germans in uniform,
and my mother fears that having once
narrowly missed killing her they might yet succeed
in killing me As a child in war she saw such things
as babies tossed through the air and shot “Like crying angels, they looked” she says

My mother doesn’t know who Allen Ginsberg is She watches German tourists sun themselves
on the shore Sometimes they don uniforms
of German language,  march to her condo, 
call up through the intercom and order
her downstairs with one suitcase con-
taining 6 kilos of clothing, and food
for a journey of three days
My mother doesn’t know who
Allen Ginsberg is
and I wonder if she knows who
Alan Kaufman is
She can’t understand
why any Jew would ever
want to go to Germany

My mother doesn’t know who Allen
Ginsberg is
she looks older than her years
but younger than the death she
still manages to escape
in retirement on the beaches
of Florida where there are not too many
round-ups for the camps, and one is safe,
generally speaking, if one stays indoors,
pretends not to be a Jew, even
to other Jews

My mother doesn’t know
who Allen Ginsberg is
She has tended to regard most
‘high’ culture
as a kind of Disneyworld
for intelligent people —
to her, the 3 bolt locks
on her door are more important
than the collected works of Shakespeare
She knows that she’s supposed
to appreciate books and pretends
to but my mother doesn’t know who
Norman Mailer is, she doesn’t know who

Maya Angelou is,  she doesn’t know who
wrote On The Road or Leaves Of Grass or The
Awful Rowing Towards God
She has seen six million of the best minds
of her generation gassed and burned

She is making baked fish
in the oven tonight, regardless of what
my father says about the smell
and, tossing a nice salad,
she goes into the livingroom, sets down
the meal on the T.V tray, and as she eats,
stares through the big plate glass
window filled with night, measuring the
distance between herself and the sprawling, 
creeping lights out there, humming the
Kaddish in her throat, the prayer for the dead,
for so many, many illusions dressed as life

Robert OSullivan Schleith


Robert O’Sullivan Schleith lives and writes in San Diego He took third place in the 1998 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Robert O’Sullivan Schleith and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

MZ, The elder-Johnson & I

are dreaming the same dream
in 3 separate time zones, in which
a train is rolling through the Polish countryside;
those are the Tatra mountains
growing ever more distant
behind us, & darkness is extinguishing
the landscape even as we dream In school, in the early 1960?s
our history teacher would spend a week on the Holocaust:
I remember the first time I ever saw that word-
h o l o c a u s t
It looked like hell-cast to me;
I thought of burning in hell, burning in acid-
a caustic hell-hole of gas, acid & acrid smoke I wonder now how many others were like me,
scanning the flickering
black-&-white film footage
in the darkened classroom,
searching for a familiar face
on that crying screen of human carnage:
a mother, a sister or brother;
or maybe like MZ, you were searching for your own
melting & forsaken soul;
like angels fallen into hell-
I worried myself sick as a child
From the trout streams of the Tatras,
we were sent to live in the ghetto of Warsaw-
from there shipped to Auschwitz,
and then finally one last send-off
at snowy Birkenau
We are all dreaming the same dream;
three of us share a fear of engulfing silence,
an obsession with keeping food close at hand,
and scenery from train windows
is always blurred with tears I brought with me a Polish surname this time around,
the elder-Johnson a blonde, fair-skinned
husband, and MZ is a Jew still 50 years have passed-
the gas chambers have become Tokyo subway tunnels,
the camps are surrounded by banana trees
in the Rwandan hills,
and the mass graves are at Vukovar & Pristina;
there are still angels trapped in hell somewhere
in the world at any given time.

Frank Pool


I live in Austin, Texas, where I teach English and am chairman of the 1999 Austin International Poetry Festival This poem is published in Tres Di-Verse-City, the anthology of the AIPF

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Frank Pool and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Corridor of Memory

These shoes were made to endure, but not to last
this many years The old leather sags into a softness
of animal origin Wasn?t it Einstein who said a physicist
should be a cobbler, one who should theorize at the last
while punching with his awl? What a Jewish science
that would make, humming in the shtetl, smelling bread
baking in the ovens across the street, little gingerbread
people in there, philosophizing I have seen the pictures,
still and moving, and wound my way in slow progress
through mostly silent crowds The energy in a mass
of old leather sucks light from the white corridor Brown
shoes, mostly, made for concrete streets and bare floors,
constructed for endurance in ghettos, in dim poverty–
yet the open-toed summer sandals, the girls? shoes,
the elegant ones, gleam a muted white in an expanding
universe of brown The photos keep their sepia tones,
their cosmos of black and white, and black and white,
and brown shoes, and brown shirts, and black ashes
floating in the continuum of time I have seen many
of these images before But I can smell the shoes,
the reek of slaughtered cattle, fashioned for the feet
that walked this earth, our moral planet, coming now
to rest in their pairs, in their mountains of silence In every shoe, an emptiness, a man or woman or child
cut out, absent to the very last, to their Jewish souls.

Julia Stein


Julia Stein has published two books of poetry: Under the Ladder to Heaven and Desert Soldiers Her work is published in the anthologies Beyond Larment: World Poets Repsond to the Holocuast (Northwestern Press) and Which Lilith: Feminist Writers Re-Create the World’s First Woman (Jason Aronson: New Jersey and London).She has written a novel The Magic Circle about the 1960s, and an excerpt was published in the “Flashback” issue of the magazine Saturday Afternoon Journal

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Julia Stein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Shulamith Part II

I am the warrior,
Jael, the nomad’s wife,
during the battle
with the Canaanites
I smashed my nail into
their general’s head,
I am the warrior muse,
Masha, ghetto fighter
from Warsaw
sent on the train
to Treblinka,
I ignited the men
in the death camp
with my stories
how I fought in Warsaw,
I was the fuse of revolt
the time bomb the match
we torched Treblinka,
the camp burnt fiercely,
I was running running
from the flaming camp
running to freedom
in the forests–
I am the woman of valor.

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