We were asked to write about winter or cold. Poets went from temperatures to coldness of heart to…
COLD AS A SWASTIKA
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
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
July 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm
just wanted to say…I like this one…a lot
Sharp Little Pencil
July 29, 2010 at 3:36 pm
Thank you so much, Leesa. A lot of heart went into this, as my daughter’s grandma was in Auschwitz and actually escaped shortly before the liberation. The parallels to Socialists as described by the Christian Right (and I’m from the Christian Left, social progressives) as well as the Fox News folks are wrong, wrong. It’s these more subtle moments – the banning of books, the militias, the rise of skinheads in Europe and here in America – that we have to watch. And anytime artwork is censored, red flag. The past administration’s attempts to cut budgets for the National Endowment for the Arts, things like that.
I live in a rural area. I actually saw a bumper sticker on a truck with a Confederate flag and the motto: ‘Fighting terrorism since 1861.” Oy vey. And this is in upstate New York!!
July 29, 2010 at 11:33 pm
1861 wow! he must be exhausted!
I have been to the states twice and one side I love but the other? The christian right and even just the intense patriotism is bloomin terrifying to this little black duck!
I brought my son, then eight to Denver in 2004.. One day we were confonted by a pro-life group. I didnt mind for I think everyone has a right to express an opinion.
But the intensity of that opinion…the need to force it upon me…the fact they shoved a picture of a mutilated fetus in my eight year olds face…”Oy vey” indeed!
scary stuff! I cant call myself a christain though I think Jesus rocks and try to live as he said. America is such a christian country compared to australia and yet it still seems to be the christianity of the sword?
Sharp Little Pencil
July 30, 2010 at 11:09 pm
Leesa, my aunt and uncle lived in Australia for years! The problem is, especially since the George W. Bush presidency, that the Christian Right gets all the press. I’m a follower of Jesus, husband is a pastor, and we strongly believe in civil rights – that Jesus indeed rocks, but that if he were here today, he’d be kicking butt and taking names in Washington, DC, with evangelists who preach on TV, with people who carry around fetuses in glass jars (your poor son, that’s enough to send one to therapy, huh?)… he’d be turning the tables over in all seats of power. Not hurting anyone, but certainly decrying their inhumane deeds, particularly those done in his name.
Now that we have a biracial president, the neo-Nazis and other cockroaches have come out from under their little rocks to question a black man’s fitness to be president. It’s these people who ALSO get a lot of attention from the press. I have been an active war protester since FOREVER, but it’s always the one vet standing off in a corner with an American flag who gets his picture in the paper. And let’s face it, the media ARE America to the world. Many, many more Americans believe in health care for all, in the release of thousands of incarcerated people (mostly of color) who were arrested through racial profiling and were carrying, you know, a joint of something. We believe in social justice. So did Jesus, and it’s unfortunate the other people are giving “Christian” a bad name. Thanks, Leesa, and tell you son we’re not all jerks!!
May 11, 2012 at 4:04 am
This poem takes me back again and again to Fahrenheit 451. The banning and burning of books has been around for centuries. Back in the day, Leaves of Grass was considering obscene. Sometimes I think that, for some people, times haven’t changed. Brett
May 11, 2012 at 4:06 am
This poem reminds me again and again of Fahrenheit 451. Excellent work, Amy! Brett