DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Not April, but November is my cruelest month
when bitter winds begin to blow tattered leaves,
looking like worried mice scurrying for shelter
across black macadam streets.
In 1938 swastikas desocrated my
Young members of the German-American Bund
hunting for Jews after school, chased me home.
November reminds me of burning books
and shattered glass, precursor of burning bodies:
fires raged, rising smoke choked sobbing angels
whose pleadings failed to move an indifferent deity
when the SS attacked the “untermenschen”
unleashing howling wolves with swastika eyes.
Beards were pulled, old men pummeled, a bayoneted
baby hoisted in the air, trophy for the Fatherland.
Families traded all they owned to huddle in safe places
playing hide and seek with storm troopers, where
getting caught would prove most lethal.
Ordinary citizens turned a blind eye in
when human carcasses were hung on meat hooks
instead of Angus sides of beef, hapless victims
corralled in simulated camp showers hoping work
would make them free; good Germans thought
gassing Jews would surely bring prosperity.
In the good old U S of A Henry Ford
And Charlie Lindbergh applauded Katie Smith
who kept singing “God Bless
The honorable Father Coughlin spewed Sunday
morning radio sermons as venomous as a rattler’s
two front teeth. As the thin veneer of civilization
was ripped asunder it made the millennium assaults
of Huns, Goths, Vikings and Mongols look like
Tom and Jerry cat and mouse cartoons.
Russians helped round up neighbors for machine-gun
tailgate parties; forced to dig their own graves
at Babi Yar, inspiring Yevtushenko to write:
“Nothing in me shall ever forget.”
Now human bombs with Islamic faces
reach for heaven exploding themselves
in crowds of “infidels.” Five thousand years of efforts
to destroy the Jewish people have yet to succeed,
but enemies, both old and new keep trying.