We were asked to write about winter or cold.  Poets went from temperatures to coldness of heart to…


And when they had gathered all the books
Works of Jewish and other subversive writers
Thoughts of Einstein
Dark musings of playwright Bertolt Brecht
(every time you hum “Mack the Knife,” remember him)
Lenin, Trotsky, Zola (politics)
From Sigmund Freud to Ernest Hemingway
Ironically, Jack London’s Arctic went into the pile

And then the pyre – everyone pulled out matches to participate in
a funeral worthy of a ship-bound Viking
The death of thousands of words
too dangerous to read
Thoughts polluting the minds of
pure-blooded, ‘real’ Germans

The chill pored over intellectuals
Jews and Christians alike
Frozen in time, these works
Alive elsewhere, but here during the Nazi regime
forbidden fruit
Icewater veins of torch-wielding youth
who, had they read the books
might have understood what was going wrong

Here, in America
that same icy atmosphere prevails
over “Harry Potter”
over “Huck Finn”
over “Catcher in the Rye”
We don’t burn ’em; we ban ’em
And the North wind keeps on blowing

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil