A Polish Disco

Tim J. Myers

                                                           

Now the provincial governor, claiming no one pressured him at all,

has revoked the permit for a disco in the city of Oswiecim,

which is rendered in German

Auschwitz.

 

Some Jewish groups were angry, the newspaper says:

In a tannery where bony Jews worked,

where Nazi law had made them

less even than the hides of slaughtered cows they treated and hauled,

a kind of animal refuse,

offal to be hosed out of Europe,

in this building where innocents were

so carefully and savagely destroyed,

 

somebody wanted to install a big new sound system,

thumping bass, racks of lights,

maybe one of those rotating mirror-balls,

rap, pop and techno pumped in, young people

drinking, laughing, shouting, swaying,

working their hips, watching each other,

trying to find

all the things one looks for in such places—

 

and I’m confused, sensing a question here

bigger even than our inadequacy

in beholding the Holocaust,

its endless realms of obscene stinking muck,

should we try to swallow it all?

When of course we want to think about other things,

run away and forget,

and so, perhaps, invite its return, we feel

fairly safe now—

(only those who can’t forget

can’t forget)—

 

So all these miles away I’m imagining

ash pits, ovens, fences, mass graves, train tracks, barracks,

empty but not empty, silent but not silent,

 

and then young bodies in motion, male and female, desire,

life in stupid joy seeking always to replicate itself,

music beating through us at a level beneath memory,

 

I don’t see how history and ordinary joy

can ever live easily together.

I fear cultural amnesia, it becomes an unconscious form of suicide;

I also fear the wasteland of a mind trying to bear all burdens.

 

How much murder is remarkable?  Is there a number?

We pose this question to our modern, media-savvy selves.

How many dead before we write books, put up plaques,

build museums, make documentaries or sensitive period movies?

What square foot of ground on this ancient planet

hasn’t witnessed

pummeling knife, flailing club, trigger-squeeze,

or maybe only traditional hate-gorged

beating, kicking, strangling?

What parcel of earth from which the stink of murder

hasn’t risen?

 

Show me the unbloodied ground where we

can build our dance floors.

Secrets

Tim J. Myers

                                                           

In summer, say,

a bundle of newspapers

on a sidewalk, or

trains taking people to work.

Secrets up out of

ordinary things—

 

how they press themselves

against all that

contains them,

these secrets,

revenants striving against

matter.  Existence

as it gives life leaves so much

buried.

 

Set the table

carefully—you are

establishing something.

Deep-rooted willow tree.

Empty ball field.

 

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