Poetry break.

I feel like yesterday’s post was so lame, that I need to write something tonight to move it off the main page, so to speak – but, I am preoccupied by things I’d rather not write about, because they’re not terribly important and are totally fixable if I’d just yank myself up out of this unhealthy rut I’ve been in for a few years now (I currently weigh more than I ever have in my life, and it’s pissing me off, yet it’s totally my fault for eating like crap and not exercising, so I’m not going to sit here and bitch about it. Except that I just did).

So, I’ll share a poem instead. I have over 400 poems collected from back in the days when I used to write, and the best ones I feel I’ve already shared here. But I have loads of them that aren’t what I’d consider my best work, yet still aren’t bad, so on occasion I throw them up here and see what happens.

I wrote this one after viewing a documentary of the Holocaust, the title of which I cannot remember. One of the camps it focused on was Treblinka, in Poland. A survivor was discussing how birds would land inside the camp, and guards would shoot them, because they were concerned the birds might pick up human remains and carry them outside the camp, essentially providing evidence to the outside world of what was really taking place inside. This witness made a statement to the effect that not even birds survived Treblinka (I’m paraphrasing, I saw this documentary well over 10 years ago). The idea stuck with me, and eventually I wrote about it, so here it is.


At first, there were birds.
Black ravens with wings
we envied. They unearthed
scraps of skin and bone
from the ash until guards
in their towers
gunned them down
so they could not
bear witness. At Treblinka,
the master’s eye
was even on the birds,
while prisoners
dug trenches, pipes
funneled fumes
into chambers, and smoke,
heavy with bodies,
colored a creatureless sky.

We could not save them.
We could only endure
each new arrival
until the shower of bird
and bone from above
exhausted our concern.
It was only the fate
of ravens, after all, and ours
was not to worry
with the destiny of birds.

But now they have returned,
black-winged and chatterless.
The ravens are building
nests above our heads –
bone-nests, nests of teeth
and infant hair. Later,
we will call them down,
let them flutter among us
with the gaveling of wings,
allow them to unburden
their testimony of bones.

3 thoughts on “Poetry break.

  1. This is so moving. The guards representing humanity’s indifference to life of any kind — how we can detach ourselves from common decency, given permission. It is particularly apt to me this week, as I watch repeated stories of Ted Cruz and his benighted friends shooting tame pheasants who were fed by people they thought were their friends and caregivers one day and then released into the sky, bewildered, to be slaughtered mercilessly as they look down on the people they thought they knew. If I were in a different space, this poem would bring me to tears.

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