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
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
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
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
Show me the unbloodied ground where we
can build our dance floors.
Tim J. Myers
In summer, say,
a bundle of newspapers
on a sidewalk, or
trains taking people to work.
Secrets up out of
how they press themselves
against all that
revenants striving against
as it gives life leaves so much
Set the table
Deep-rooted willow tree.
Empty ball field.