Content warning: may be triggering to those that are experiencing emotional or traumatic struggles. Reader discretion is advised.
She started smoking again Feeling bones by finger curls And the nauseating hunger For someone to understand The hard lumps under skin And the satisfaction of a visible scapula Under the crushing, suffocating, smothering Weight of ten pounds Against the pull of Earth’s gravitational force When the greatest ally against one condition Becomes the pain of another Hoping that at the end of this cigarette She will find the cremated remains Of her claim to have it all under control
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This poem first appeared on Curenseaafter being written in 2007. I have made a few minor edits.
I chose this poem based on many thoughts coming up for me over my lifetime while living in the United States. I grew up in Virginia and found it strange that I could live next to a Holocaust survivor and then move to a town with an active KKK chapter other kids at the elementary school nonchalantly talked to me about their parents being members of. My parents explained what that meant when I asked. Same with the Neo-nazi rallies in Yorktown, Virginia – you know, that place where we apparently “won the Revolutionary War”. What’s so revolutionary about it anymore now that you allow those kinds of rallies there? But Virginia did. My parents felt powerless against it because the courts ruled in their favor on the grounds of Freedom Of Speech and Freedom Of Assembly and that was used to argue for social tolerance of intolerance. Now, here we are, being asked to tolerate violence against each other as that too becomes normalized.
A Lesson Never Learned
It came up through the floorboards, Zyklon B reaching forward through time Ripping at our throats, Forming itself around our nostrils condensing into blue ice, after being trapped in the cold of existence. This depressive state of humanity Seeming only to slumber in its death Released the gas upon itself, Using the world as its chamber Many can claim their innocence -besides- Innocence through ignorance is the best kind While dictators commence genocidal rampages Using ill-earned power to rape a people destroy their very creation of a God, And yet, for those who are suffering:
The strongest woman I (n)ever met sat crying at the grand opening of the Holocaust Museum She surveyed the surrounding young people Generations too young to remember or know what She Survived Walking through in awe of their own misunderstandings She looked back without a single failed memory Her arm exposed so everyone could see: the vining rose tattoo that grew out of the numbers that changed her life forever
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