The Messiah in Strasshof
Inside the grinding burden of the crusty past
dreary facts hide, jubilant verities hibernate,
haunting memories trumpet and overwhelm the poet
he is compelled to tell what cannot be told.
But this is a true story and it must be told.
It happened long ago, as the ordeals of 1944
curled into the agonies of 1945
over the tormented body of war-weary Europe.
Exhaling anguished stench soaked in torrents of blood
mighty armies clashed in apocalyptic combats,
against the forces of darkness.
In the unrelenting wintry cold
the fighting intensified along frontless fronts.
There were daily air raids and dog fights in the skies.
Humming allied bombers flew towards their targets
and the German flak firing from the ground
pelted across the blue firmament feathery clouds
of bursting explosive shells.
Turning his back to the barbed wire fence
a slim and hungry eight year old boy
lifted his ebon eyes to the heavens,
beclouded with melancholic despair and oblivion.
A prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp Strasshof,
a forlorn suburb of waltz-loving Vienna,
he stood dazed, almost catatonic.
And then suddenly as if appearing out of nowhere
a teenager started to talk to the boy.
And he listened eagerly,
drinking the words with zest and fervor,
his eyes widely open
and glow in wonder and fascination.
For, the boy heard from his mysterious friend
that one day swords will be beaten into plowshares
and no nation will rise against others to wage wars.
Oh, then the days of halcyon will arrive,
wild lions will play peacefully with timid children
amid blossoming flowers on quiet river banks.
The day will come and people will be free and happy
because the Messiah is round the corner,
bringing redemption to the hungry,
the wretched and the hopeless.
Paul Hartal's Other Poems
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