Squirrel Hill

A Kristallnacht Poem by Mark Russ

See the USA in your Chevrolet
As the Cleavers prepare the beaver for school.
Wheaties and orange juice and a string of pearls
Greet the morning as dogs bay to undetectable whistles
In the greatness of America.
Men of steel go off to work.
Oh what did Dela Ware, boy, and
How did Wis-con-sin?
This is how morning in America has been.
I have heard that
God rocks those who die in prayer
In her arms. There is a special place.
Perfect bodies, cleansed of shards of glass,
stained with blues and yellows and greens and blood,
Gone the lead and steel stigmata.
All are met by four beautiful girls,
Dressed in Sunday white
and black as a Birmingham night.
Welcome friends from the city of steel.
You are safe now, far from
That tiki-torched night of
Polos and khakis, of good people on both sides.
They envy your peace now,
And they cannot replace you or
The blood-stained soil of the city of steel.
Promises made, promises kept,
Barks the nationalist in chief.
Spews the serpent and the thief.
Strange fruit on this tree of life:
You chose to live in the ghetto
To hunker in the bunkers and coat closets
Where you hung your garments, and walkers
And canes, and umbrellas.
Dark on this rainy Shabbos morning.
Cecil, where are you? I’m goin’ in.
I’m here, my brother, where is the light?
Don’t fear. Havdalah is coming soon.
Revealing the optics of murder before noon.

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