William Heyen (1940-)
My Holocaust Songs

From Erika: Poems of the Holocaust, by William Heyen. Copyright © 1991 by Time Being Press. Reprinted by permission of Time Being Books. All rights reserved.


Some split SS backbones with axes,
but who can praise them?
Some filed like sheep into the corridors of the swastika,
but who can blame them?
Some found smoke's way to the cosmos,
but who can see them?
Some rose earth's way to grass and pond-pads,
but who can know them?


Dead Jew goldpiece in German eye,
dead Jew shovel in German shed,
dead Jew book in German hand,
dead Jew hat on German head,
dead Jew violin in German ear,
dead Jew linen on German skin,
dead Jew blood in German vein,
dead Jew breath in German lung,
dead Jew love in German brain.


Break down again, songs, break down
into pure melody, wind's way,
history sung in leaves almost lost,
atoms of singing darkness, the meanings,
the wailing songs of the Holocaust,
themselves dying, returning with spring, the bleeding
notes, break down, break down again, my songs.


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