The Complete Holocaust Poems of Louis Daniel Brodsky

edited by Jerry Call and Sheri Vandermolen

Paperback: 385 pp.
Published: 2015

Price: $17.95



Debate has long raged about who is qualified to tackle the delicate topic of the Holocaust — is it only the victims, survivors, and their families? Is it historians and documentary-makers? Or should the net be cast wider, to include poets and other artists, and if so, is there a place for fictional works?

Throughout his career as a poet, Louis Daniel Brodsky believed that when art is encouraged, not suppressed, it fulfills its purpose, extending beyond often-sterile historical chronicles, to become an emotive force that pushes the reader to think, feel, and learn about the experience. While nonfictional Holocaust poems are frequently a mere regurgitation of the writer's own reading (delineating the war's progression or reciting various statistics about the victims), Brodsky hoped to reach his audience on a much more visceral level, documenting not fact after fact, from some pat rubric, but universal truths, confirming William Faulkner's conviction that "poets are almost always wrong about facts. That's because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth."

This volume of Brodsky's complete Holocaust poems stands as a testament to one poet's relentless exploration of an atrocity whose truths have continued, and will continue, to challenge our assumption about the nature of humanity.



One cannot but respond with deep emotion and affection to the anguish and pain one finds in your poems. Granted, words are often unable to express the ineffable; but isn't poetry the art of transcending words?

— Elie Wiesel, winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize and author of Night

Almost unbearably graphic — how can it be otherwise? — and yet imaginative, outraged and remarkably personal, these poems exemplify the contagion of the horror which more than any other series of events, mars the name of the twentieth century.

— Karl Shapiro, author of Poems of a Jew, The Bourgeois Poet, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning V-Letter and Other Poems


Your Life as a Cyanide Capsule

One timeless day situated in the middle of an endless night,
You awakened into an infinitely visceral dream,
That of being a cyanide capsule
Hidden beneath a patch of grafted flesh
Seamlessly stiched into the SS Obersturmbannführer's left armpit —
An expedient resource allowing him recourse
To avoid the shameful humilation of being captured
And forced to confess his role in perpetuating the Holocaust,
Sending millions of innocent Juden to their "necessary" deaths,
Rescuing genocide from its millennially pejorative context,
Investing it with salvific powers of majestic Hitlerian resurrection.

And in that revelational moment of eternal pride,
When you assumed your new, true identity as a cyanide capsule,
You realized that you contained, within your very essence,
The capacity to conlcude your host's existence, at his sole behest,
Not at the reqeust of three Jerusalem District Court judges,
Knowing that you'd do everything in your encapsulated merciless fury,
To ensure that your carrier, Herr Adolf Eichmann,
Could be seized by the Mossad's Nazi hunters, in Buenos Aires,
Wihout ever once fearing that he'd have to confess.
And yet, you knew you failed,
When the two of you were hung, in Ramla, Israel,
Shoved into a specially designed furnace, and cremated,

Your glorious Third Reich ashes cast to the librerating Mediterranean.

5/22/12 (11321)





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