Mobirise Site Creator

Winter, 2003

Larry Jaffe


Cattle Car

I cannot see myself boarding a train to oblivion
a rail to nowhere going along with the herd for a ride

I cannot see myself despite my Jewishness
going into a cattle car under anyone's volition
let alone my own

I cannot see myself riding the rails of a cattle car
packed inside like human sardines and someone else
holds the keys to my future

I cannot see myself climbing into the car
nor letting my family climb in this car
without a fight

I see disheveled disoriented Jews going
for a ride, one-way tickets clutched in
hands not made of fists

they travel to Auschwitz or Buchenwald

I wonder about the travel agent that sold these tickets
and the tour guide from hell that gave them the ride
I cannot see vacationing in Poland as a holiday

This was not Noah's ark it was Hitler's ark, Nazi's ark

They were not taking two of every species
they were taking six million of one

But I cannot see myself walking calmly without a fight,
suffering the dishonor of mental dismemberment
slowly to holocaust away.

Number tattoos are not rosebuds or nametags

Some say you were not there I say I was and am reborn yet again

This was death camp and I do not hear cries of joy,
only the sounds of vultures parading in goosesteps.

But the Nazis were very polite in their violence
their uniforms crisply cut bleeding the fingers
that clutched them.

The camps so spotless and scrubbed
even the ovens were self-cleaning
I wonder who made them.

The Nazis so well spoken relocation they preached,
the ghetto is so dirty, scour your soul, clean up your act
take a shower in this stall without drains.

They said it so politely

Very few resisted and went willingly
going on one-way holiday, bags packed
with all perishables

Where were the men
Where were the women
as mankind and children were
merchandised and victimized?

They were just following orders
the Nazis were just following orders
the Jews were just following orders
today's Nazis are still following orders

I cannot see myself following orders
I will not follow orders.