This is Part One of Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts
(Imaginative Historical Projection)
By Bill Birns
Part One: On the Porch at Fleischmanns
“So much suffering, the Kennedys.
Like a curse.”
On faded hotel porch,
she tells me, this old woman
in duster and slippers, babushka
pinned round her head,
her Auschwitz childhood
fresh in her mind like yesterday.
“Such a handsome man, that Mengele.
Everyday in boots and long white gloves.
And tall. It is a curse!”
We sit in Bushkill Hollow,
Armstrong Tract, behind
the west slope, Shandakens,
beyond the blue mountains,
here on this run-down hotel porch
at the head of the Fish.
“The father, the old man,
was a bad man. Ambassador,
he turned away the Jews.
They all did. Look at the queen.
At what’s happened to her.
What’s happened? Do you see?
Turned away the Jews
at Palestine, everywhere,
no one lifted a finger.
They let a ship in at Cuba.
It is a curse: to see the children die,
to suffer as the Jews suffered.
He lived so long, he and his wife,
Here in Fleischmanns, faded mountain resort,
survivors sit on rented summer chairs,
of an evening, to remember.