Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He has had four poems recently accepted for publication. He has also written two published children's plays, several short stories and is presently completing his first science fiction novel. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
this long, twisted road,
obstacled by bones, haunted by death,
lost between killing fields in poland,
ukraine, czechoslovakia, shivering for
the ghosts of centuries.
have pulled crumbling bricks from the
walls at Auschwitz, Buchenwald --
finding paper fragments thick with lost
words; the only relics left of millions.
imagine wanting desperately to
leave something behind but voiceless --
no poem. nothing to say remember me.
blood makes poor ink.
who will speak for them?
sometimes poems enrage me; the pursuit
of beauty eschewing the unspeakable --
lips tight, ears deaf, evading painful
answers, skating too fast, too
blindly past the voiceless.
we have heard each others’ words.
but how is that enough?
what of theirs? those desecrated souls
robbed of rhyme and metaphor;
lost to time as if they had never lived?
i must write. yet i am crushed by the
magnitude of lives unremembered, humbled by
a universe of anonymous sepia-tinted faces.
what rhymes with infinity?
ah, divinity. divinity comes close.
The lullabies my mother cooed were German.
“Schlaf mein kindlein” she would softly hum,
Forbidden words she could not teach to me
Because in our house German was unclean.
The Yiddish that my father spoke came not
From Poland but from Brooklyn Heights, New York.
Yeshiva-soldier fighting World War Two.
A secret marriage that begat a son.
Conceiving me they wanted something new
To cancel all the stigmas of the past
Unfettered by the ghosts and grief of war
Hanukkah and Christmas both the same.
So what commitment was it that they taught?
Holy days ignored. Commandments, too.
Completely free, they said, yet still a Jew,
Even though the Talmud says I’m not.
The Tabernacle doors are closed to me –
Yet still I’m loved! They gambled I’d eschew
A path of faith. That my life would be safe
So long as they both lived within my soul.
I did not choose my parents but I’m glad
For who they were. Defiant, caring, brave.
One watched me with brown eyes. The other blue.
But goodness looks the same through either hue.
What was bequeathed to me I must transcend.
Despite the Law, my life is mine to choose.
Uncounted, I chant Kaddish for them both.
My twice-divided heart is with the Jews.