Auschwitz Rose Poem by Michael Burch

Auschwitz Rose

Rating: 4.9


Auschwitz Rose
by Michael R. Burch

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon's, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her, and is not the same.
I still love her and enlist this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles;
they sleep alike—diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the 'surgeons.' Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less. Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man's crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I'll bed there and bid the world 'Good Luck.'



Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.



Something
by Michael R. Burch

for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality swept into a corner... where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.



Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of the Holocaust and Nakba

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon's table
with anguished eyes
like your mother's eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this—
your tiny hand
in your mother's hand
for a last bewildered kiss...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother's lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears...



First they came for the Muslims
by Michael R. Burch

after Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the homosexuals
and I did not speak out
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the feminists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a feminist.

Now when will they come for me
because I was too busy and too apathetic
to defend my sisters and brothers?

Published in Amnesty International's 'Words That Burn' anthology



Elegy
by Perhat Tursun
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

'Your soul is the entire world.'
—Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Asylum seekers, will you recognize me among the mountain passes' frozen corpses?
Can you identify me here among our Exodus's exiled brothers?
We begged for shelter but they lashed us bare; consider our naked corpses.
When they compel us to accept their massacres, do you know that I am with you?

Three centuries later they resurrect, not recognizing each other,
Their former greatness forgotten.
I happily ingested poison, like a fine wine.
When they search the streets and cannot locate our corpses, do you know that I am with you?

In that tower constructed of skulls you will find my dome as well:
They removed my head to more accurately test their swords' temper.
When before their swords our relationship flees like a flighty lover,
Do you know that I am with you?

When men in fur hats are used for target practice in the marketplace
Where a dying man's face expresses his agony as a bullet cleaves his brain
While the executioner's eyes fail to comprehend why his victim vanishes, ...
Seeing my form reflected in that bullet-pierced brain's erratic thoughts,
Do you know that I am with you?

In those days when drinking wine was considered worse than drinking blood,
did you taste the flour ground out in that blood-turned churning mill?
Now, when you sip the wine Ali-Shir Nava'i imagined to be my blood
In that mystical tavern's dark abyssal chambers,
Do you know that I am with you?

TRANSLATOR NOTES: This is my interpretation (not necessarily correct) of the poem's frozen corpses left 300 years in the past. For the Uyghur people the Mongol period ended around 1760 when the Qing dynasty invaded their homeland, then called Dzungaria. Around a million people were slaughtered during the Qing takeover, and the Dzungaria territory was renamed Xinjiang. I imagine many Uyghurs fleeing the slaughters would have attempted to navigate treacherous mountain passes. Many of them may have died from starvation and/or exposure, while others may have been caught and murdered by their pursuers.

Perhat Tursun's poem 'Elegy' in an English translation can help us understand the Uyghur people and their precarious situation today.

Perhat Tursun (1969-?) is one of the foremost living Uyghur language poets, if he is still alive. Born and raised in Atush in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Tursun began writing poetry in middle school, then branched into prose in college. Tursun has been described as a 'self-professed Kafka character' and that comes through splendidly in poems of his like 'Elegy.' Unfortunately, Tursun was 'disappeared' into a Chinese 'reeducation' concentration camp where extreme psychological torture is the norm. According to a disturbing report he was later 'hospitalized.' Apparently no one knows his present whereabouts or condition. According to John Bolton, when Donald Trump learned of these 'reeducation' concentration camps, he told Chinese President Xi Jinping it was 'exactly the right thing to do.' Trump's excuse? 'Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal.'



The Fog and the Shadows
adapted from a novel by Perhat Tursun
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

'I began to realize the fog was similar to the shadows.'

I began to realize that, just as the exact shape of darkness is a shadow,
even so the exact shape of fog is disappearance
and the exact shape of a human being is also disappearance.
At this moment it seemed my body was vanishing into the human form's final state.

After I arrived here,
it was as if the danger of getting lost
and the desire to lose myself
were merging strangely inside me.

While everything in that distant, gargantuan city where I spent my five college years felt strange to me; and even though the skyscrapers, highways, ditches and canals were built according to a single standard and shape, so that it wasn't easy to differentiate them, still I never had the feeling of being lost. Everyone there felt like one person and they were all folded into each other. It was as if their faces, voices and figures had been gathered together like a shaman's jumbled-up hair.

Even the men and women seemed identical.
You could only tell them apart by stripping off their clothes and examining them.
The men's faces were beardless like women's and their skin was very delicate and unadorned.
I was always surprised that they could tell each other apart.
Later I realized it wasn't just me: many others were also confused.

For instance, when we went to watch the campus's only TV in a corridor of a building where the seniors stayed when they came to improve their knowledge. Those elderly Uyghurs always argued about whether someone who had done something unusual in an earlier episode was the same person they were seeing now. They would argue from the beginning of the show to the end. Other people, who couldn't stand such endless nonsense, would leave the TV to us and stalk off.

Then, when the classes began, we couldn't tell the teachers apart.
Gradually we became able to tell the men from the women
and eventually we able to recognize individuals.
But other people remained identical for us.

The most surprising thing for me was that the natives couldn't differentiate us either.
For instance, two police came looking for someone who had broken windows during a fight at a restaurant and had then run away.
They ordered us line up, then asked the restaurant owner to identify the culprit.
He couldn't tell us apart even though he inspected us very carefully.
He said we all looked so much alike that it was impossible to tell us apart.
Sighing heavily, he left.



The Encounter
by Abdurehim Otkur
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I asked her, why aren't you afraid? She said her God.
I asked her, anything else? She said her People.
I asked her, anything more? She said her Soul.
I asked her if she was content? She said, I am Not.



The Distance
by Tahir Hamut
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We can't exclude the cicadas' serenades.
Behind the convex glass of the distant hospital building
the nurses watch our outlandish party
with their absurdly distorted faces.

Drinking watered-down liquor,
half-nude, descanting through the open window,
we speak sneeringly of life, love, girls.
The cicadas' serenades keep breaking in,
wrecking critical parts of our dissertations.

The others dream up excuses to ditch me
and I'm left here alone.

The cosmopolitan pyramid
of drained bottles
makes me feel
like I'm in a Turkish bath.

I lock the door:
Time to get back to work!

I feel like doing cartwheels.
I feel like self-annihilation.



Refuge of a Refugee
by Ablet Abdurishit Berqi aka Tarim
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I lack a passport,
so I can't leave legally.
All that's left is for me to smuggle myself to safety,
but I'm afraid I'll be beaten black and blue at the border
and I can't afford the trafficker.

I'm a smuggler of love,
though love has no national identity.
Poetry is my refuge,
where a refugee is most free.

The following excerpts, translated by Anne Henochowicz, come from an essay written by Tang Danhong about her final meeting with Dr. Ablet Abdurishit Berqi, aka Tarim. Tarim is a reference to the Tarim Basin and its Uyghur inhabitants...

I'm convinced that the poet Tarim Ablet Berqi the associate professor at the Xinjiang Education Institute, has been sent to a 'concentration camp for educational transformation.' This scholar of Uyghur literature who conducted postdoctoral research at Israel's top university, what kind of 'educational transformation' is he being put through?

Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, has said it's 'like the instruction at school, the order of the military, and the security of prison. We have to break their blood relations, their networks, and their roots.'

On a scorching summer day, Tarim came to Tel Aviv from Haifa. In a few days he would go back to Urumqi. I invited him to come say goodbye and once again prepared Sichuan cold noodles for him. He had already unfriended me on Facebook. He said he couldn't eat, he was busy, and had to hurry back to Haifa. He didn't even stay for twenty minutes. I can't even remember, did he sit down? Did he have a glass of water? Yet this farewell shook me to my bones.

He said, 'Maybe when I get off the plane, before I enter the airport, they'll take me to a separate room and beat me up, and I'll disappear.'

Looking at my shocked face, he then said, 'And maybe nothing will happen …'

His expression was sincere. To be honest, the Tarim I saw rarely smiled. Still, layer upon layer blocked my powers of comprehension: he's a poet, a writer, and a scholar. He's an associate professor at the Xinjiang Education Institute. He can get a passport and come to Israel for advanced studies. When he goes back he'll have an offer from Sichuan University to be a professor of literature … I asked, 'Beat you up at the airport? Disappear? On what grounds? '

'That's how Xinjiang is, ' he said without any surprise in his voice. 'When a Uyghur comes back from being abroad, that can happen.'…



With my translations I am trying to build awareness of the plight of Uyghur poets and their people, who are being sent in large numbers to Chinese 'reeducation' concentration camps which have been praised by Trump as 'exactly' what is 'needed.' This poem helps us understand the nomadic lifestyle of many Uyghurs, the hardships they endure, and the character it builds...

Iz ('Traces')
by Abdurehim Otkur
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We were children when we set out on this journey;
Now our grandchildren ride horses.

We were just a few when we set out on this arduous journey;
Now we're a large caravan leaving traces in the desert.

We leave our traces scattered in desert dunes' valleys
Where many of our heroes lie buried in sandy graves.

But don't say they were abandoned: amid the cedars
their resting places are decorated by springtime flowers!

We left the tracks, the station... the crowds recede in the distance;
The wind blows, the sand swirls, but here our indelible trace remains.

The caravan continues, we and our horses become thin,
But our great-grand-children will one day rediscover those traces.



My Feelings
by Dolqun Yasin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The light sinking through the ice and snow,
The hollyhock blossoms reddening the hills like blood,
The proud peaks revealing their breasts to the stars,
The morning-glories embroidering the earth's greenery,
Are not light,
Not hollyhocks,
Not peaks,
Not morning-glories;
They are my feelings.

The tears washing the mothers' wizened faces,
The flower-like smiles suddenly brightening the girls' visages,
The hair turning white before age thirty,
The night which longs for light despite the sun's laughter,
Are not tears,
Not smiles,
Not hair,
Not night;
They are my nomadic feelings.

Now turning all my sorrow to passion,
Bequeathing to my people all my griefs and joys,
Scattering my excitement like flowers festooning fields,
I harvest all these, then tenderly glean my poem.

Therefore the world is this poem of mine,
And my poem is the world itself.



To My Brother the Warrior
by Téyipjan Éliyow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I accompanied you,
the commissioners called me a child.
If only I had been a bit taller
I might have proved myself in battle!

The commission could not have known
my commitment, despite my youth.
If only they had overlooked my age and enlisted me,
I'd have given that enemy rabble hell!

Now, brother, I'm an adult.
Doubtless, I'll join the service soon.
Soon enough, I'll be by your side,
battling the enemy: I'll never surrender!

Another poem of note by Téyipjan Éliyow is 'Neverending Song.'

Keywords/Tags: Holocaust, Auschwitz, race, racism, racist, rose, world, world conflicts, memory, horror, terror, murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, death camps, indoctrination, reeducation camps

Published as the collection 'Auschwitz Rose'

Friday, January 11, 2013
Topic(s) of this poem: horror,memory,racism,racist,rose,auschwitz,world,world conflicts,holocaust
COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Poet Princealexander 01 March 2015

Previously published by me ( as all other my English poetry ) on other sites under the name princeAlexander / princealexander . ------ The Yellow Star of Jewish Ghetto Into my skin is deeply set to. Six million weeping yellow stars Are in my heart as painful scars. They radiate such burning light, Like sun, which rose amidst the Night, The Night of Death, the Night of Sin, The Night of Crimes against my kin. Yet through the covers of that Night These yellow stars did shine so bright With cry, which spreads through Universe, Six million voices strong eternal curse. To beasts, with swastika on sleeves, To killers, torturers and thieves, Who brought such Shame on Human Race, Which no one ever will erase. Six million weeping yellow stars Are in my heart as painful scars. I want the World to feel my pain For Jewish lives being lost in vain.

0 0 Reply
Sandra Feldman 12 August 2019

I feel the same way but never could of expressed it in such a poignantly true devastatingly, painful and sad way.

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Poet Princealexander 01 March 2015

Previously published by me (as all other my English poetry) on other sites under the name princeAlexander / princealexander. - - - The Yellow Star of Jewish Ghetto Into my skin is deeply set to. Six million weeping yellow stars Are in my heart as painful scars. They radiate such burning light, Like sun, which rose amidst the Night, The Night of Death, the Night of Sin, The Night of Crimes against my kin. Yet through the covers of that Night These yellow stars did shine so bright With cry, which spreads through Universe, Six million voices strong eternal curse. To beasts, with swastika on sleeves, To killers, torturers and thieves, Who brought such Shame on Human Race, Which no one ever will erase. Six million weeping yellow stars Are in my heart as painful scars. I want the World to feel my pain For Jewish lives being lost in vain.

0 0 Reply
Michael R. Burch 07 November 2020

Thanks, I'm glad you liked my work.

0 0 Reply
Chinedu Dike 15 March 2020

Well articulated and nicely embellished with poetic rhyme and rhythm, an insightful piece of poetry.

1 0 Reply
C F 25 October 2019

I feel in your poem the sadness that the place invokes... the anguish, the fear, and the tears that never wash away through all these years. A remarkable write! 10+

1 0 Reply
Sandra Feldman 08 August 2019

Felt every single word. Like thorns, those the germ -mans planted for the Jews in the concentration camps, they gave them as their homes. How deep the crime, never to be erased, shame on the whole human race.

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Sandra Feldman 15 August 2019

And they'd do it again if they could, anti-Semitism still lives brilliantly in Europe, especially in France, with all their " liberte', fraternite' and egalite'

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Michael Burch 12 August 2019

Yes, it's a shame that the human race is capable of such things.

0 0 Reply
Poet Princealexander 01 March 2015

Previously published by me (as all other my English poetry) on other sites under the name princeAlexander / princealexander. - - - The Yellow Star of Jewish Ghetto Into my skin is deeply set to. Six million weeping yellow stars Are in my heart as painful scars. They radiate such burning light, Like sun, which rose amidst the Night, The Night of Death, the Night of Sin, The Night of Crimes against my kin. Yet through the covers of that Night These yellow stars did shine so bright With cry, which spreads through Universe, Six million voices strong eternal curse. To beasts, with swastika on sleeves, To killers, torturers and thieves, Who brought such Shame on Human Race, Which no one ever will erase. Six million weeping yellow stars Are in my heart as painful scars. I want the World to feel my pain For Jewish lives being lost in vain.

0 0 Reply
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