Family Tree

I do not know their faces
Nor the shape of their hopes
Smiles or holy days
Though their names are familiar

Their dead branches whisper to me
Cut off long before I grew
To stretch my own limbs skyward
Drinking in the warmth of life

Pollarded by the Shoah
They were dead wood
Judged and executed
Discarded, pulped

Their elder fruits
Dropped, dried,
Repackaged and distributed
To nourish the living

Old shoes, clothes, handbags
Torahs pulped for toilet paper
To wipe the arse of the aggressor
Marching through ancestral Europe

Kicks supplied on demand
At discount rates
An eye for an eyeful
A bullet for a broken bone

Until I stand here
Weary of remembrance
Sighing in the comfort of
Survivor’s guilt

Read Primo Levi and think of
Stage directions for a ‘war’ film
Complain about my own
Petty frustrations

Knowing we can never again
Afford to plead our ignorance
Of the mechanised
Bestiality of man

Taking a back seat

Racist grannies on the bus
Tut and stare – it’s them v. us
Martin Luther was their King
But did his words mean anything?

Instead of peace from A to B
Oneupmanship is all they see
A trade in slaves they scowl and claim
No other story merits blame

How then may one girl best explain
Two thousand years of Jewish pain?
Our ancestors have suffered too
But my pale face meets hostile view

No white devil yet understands
The misery of foreign lands
Of being torn from all you know
And sold for servitude, although

If we had time enough to show
So many tales of mankind’s woe
Are written, spoken, danced and sung
To exorcise this bitter crumb

As painful history lays bare
How little pity all do spare
For those they see as lesser folk
The truth is plain, a racist joke