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By Isaac Mozeson

Lamentations V






Score O’ Lord

what has befallen us,

feel and share our recent shame.

Anatevka's gone to the dogs;

our synagogues

are Soviet museums.

A generation's orphaned

of our Father, leaving us

widows' fears and survivors' guilt.


We've paid the train ride to our own cremations;

we've literally dug our own graves.

We’re up to our necks

in ghettos and gallows:

even in labor camps

we’re worked to our bones.

And where the Axis let us flee,

the Allies turned us back.


Our fathers took religion

as the air they breathed:

so now we gasp for breath in chambers

of horrors forewarned in your forgotten book.


The subject Slavs enslaved us,

happy to hunt the enemy of their enemy;

the Anglos delayed liberation;

sparing train tracks, sparing useful killers.

We risked and bartered our bodies for bread,

between the hungry mouths

of machine guns.

Our skin crusted in the ovens,

with no meat on our bones.


Farmwives who kept family purity

laws were gang-raped

along with Berlin debutantes.

Surgeons were strung by their hands;

rabbis beards were ripped away.

Selections sawed up families;

children swept like wood chips.

Sages were stolen from their studies,

schoolboys plucked from piano lessons.


We were numbed past fear;

hope became sarcasm.

They'd half proven that

we're not chosen,

a genocide for a deicide.

After this our courage was crushed,

our vision darkly dimmed.

Who could see an Israel

in Britain's Palestine?

Yet the sun could never set

On the empire of our Lord.


Why did it take forever

to remember us?

You abandoned us too long

to the free will of men.

Turn history back to us, Lord,

and we'll turn it back to you.

This interpretive rendition of Lamentations (Aichah)
chapter 5 in in Isaac Mozeson's Collected Poems (Amazon Kindle 2009)

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