This too is bread

The final objective of rational anti-Semites must be the removal of the Jews altogether.
–Adolf Hitler, 1919.


They made scythes
out of ink
and nobody
seemed to notice.

Cold blue scratchings chilled
hatred’s warning heat,

made finality a solution,
a simple pruning.

An ocean away,
you lanced yourself
and bled onto pages

bright red
mixed with tears


Hold them close
and smell the cinders,

the wet blood,

the hollow
cost of knowing
we are
already dead.

This too is bread, Abe.

Not of action,
but conscience:

the endless liturgy
of human souls.

[for A.M. Klein]

Colossi, or Twenty Centuries

Just like the brazen giants of Babeled fame,
With skyward steel tendrils claiming dominion over other lands;
Here at the once-beckoning gates of promise, in stolid stands,
Two towers to Prosperity, whose flame
Is the beacon of rapacity, and their game:
Traders of money. From their tightened fist
Glowers world-wide warning; their malign gaze glaring
At the ether expanse of multitude mist.

“Keep ancient lands, your huddled homeless!” growl they
Through gleaming teeth. “Give us your precious gems, your natural gifts,
Your best and brightest yearning for more than they can ever spend,
The insatiable strivers of your clustered coasts.
Send these, and only these: your modern monarchs,
Angels of avarice, to we
Who guard the gates before the golden door.
And just like the homeless, tempest-tost of Egyptian fame,

With generations hungry atop their wealth-covering sands,
The angered, desperate descendants of a holy hubris plans
A mother battle with new Pharaoh’s storied pomp,
Commandeering his own steel birds, falcons now with
Frenzied falconers, iron bellies heavy with the driving stuff of flame.

Twenty centuries to a shining September morning, when
Twin killers scrape a flawless sky, mere anarchy carefully
Careening into deliberate death, thoughtless now of imagined
Innocence, mindful of murder only, and their name:
Sons of Muhammed (Peace be upon Him), full of passionate intensity.
Steel skeletons incapable of support, a Center that cannot hold;
Wretched refuse flying flightless to teeming, gleaming streets
Summarily smudged with ash, and all ceremony drowned.

And now, a lion-headed son of always-promised privilege stands
On the pedestal of Jesus’ neck (Peace be upon Him),
all Christian mercy bleeding out in breathless hymns
Of righteous retribution vexed to nightmare.
And another multitude of slouching souls departing
On a vow to make a waste of desert sand.



          It was Joseph, as the man in
authority over the whole
country, who sold the grain
to all comers.
— Genesis 42:6

Unlike my father,
I knew what was coming.

When my chief tormentor
told me of his visions —
seven fat, seven lean,
seven sleek, seven hungry —
I knew there would be
more years.

Just like for father,
there would be labour
by expectation and hope.
There would be
more mortified by broken promises
and exhausted land.

But again, thanks to dreaming,
I was able to plan . . .

and when my brothers came to visit
I knew just what to do.



Favoured, I was barren
while she
bled life.

pleading, kissing
a father’s hardened hand,
like lips on coals,

I opened;
with life
and prayer,

watching soft faces
turn rough with whiskers;
a father’s fashioned colours
smeared with blood.

[For Daphne Abraham]