I wouldn’t have been

such a scared kid.

If my name had been

something, — anything,

just not Milton,

an alien name,

a yellow star of David.

How could it not catch

the eye of toothless oafs

who hoisted me up

in the air in 1936?

My 6 year-old legs

fluttered in the air,

wordless, — when

they demanded

to know: “Are you a Jew?”


My bruised mouth stuttered

to utter: “I’m a Greek,”

Hoping against hope,

I could pass for Christian,

and maybe Greek.

They wore swastika armbands,

forced me to salute Hitler

with a shout of Sieg Heil!

Father wanted to call me Nicholas,

but Mother preferred Mordecai,

after her beloved grandfather,

I could have been a tough kid

with a name like Nick,

and might have become a pal

of Tony, Frankie and Luigi,

instead of hanging out

with Hebrew School classmates,

Marvin, Norman and Howard.