Sunday, May 23, 2010
More Holocaust poetry
(This image is of the entry gates at the camp at Dachau, outside of Munich, Germany)
The end of May always evokes memories for me, memories of my trips to the various concentration and death camps used by the Nazis in their plan to eradicate all non-Aryans in their domain.
I have written about some of my experiences at these camps, here, here, and here, and I suggested that these were very powerful, almost overwhelming, encounters with not just the physical reminders of the horrors, but the spiritual remains of the victims as well.
These intense interactions at the various camps left indelible marks on my soul, and impelled me to share them with others, through poetry and images.
In particular, one visit, to Dachau in May 2008, was full of psychic engagement. I spent my time walking the camp. Almost immediately, I was channeling things.
The first thing I heard was loud shouting, crying "Schnell! Schnell!" over and over again.
I also heard moaning and crying and the sounds of soup bowls.
A little later on my walk, I felt someone ill, with dysentery or pneumonia perhaps, shivering beneath a thin blanket, too weak to do more than just moan softly.
I also kept hearing the rhythmic crunching of the shoes on gravel - the repetitive, uniform sound of marching.
And I picked up two stones from the ground, which oddly enough refused to warm up in my hands. They were cold, like the death they represented.
These stones, which I keep in a bowl next to my desk, remain cold, even today, even on the warmest of summer days. They are tainted with the powers of death and destruction. They carry that stamp with them.
After this most powerful trip, I wrote the following two poems, both of which capture at least part of what I experienced that day.
They are dedicated to those who perished at the hands of the Nazis, under the guise of creating a "better world."
(Memorial at the camp at Dachau, an image of twisted bodies, trapped in barbed wire)
A Faustian Bargain
The muselman emerges
as artistic muse,
the product of Nazis,
the collection of dues.
From skeletal frames
their life's blood will ooze
as for diabolical aims
their demons abuse.
(These are my Dachau stones, picked up there in May 2008)
Dachau, May 2008
A pair of weathered stones,
cold as death,
freeze their imprint
upon my palm.
The crunch of gravelled steps,
cut their way deep
into my calm.
Voices from the tortured past,
within my head.
Visions of suffering and pain
the fates of the dead.