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Thread: Poem: I Am That Child

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Poem: I Am That Child

    This is a poem by 81-year old Berkeley-area poet Arthur Weil that addresses his experiences in the Holocaust--he survived as a child, coming to America via an ocean liner at age 12.
    I'm helping Arthur get his poetry "out there". Please e-mail me at [email protected] with any feedback that I can pass on to him, or if you're interested in getting a hold of some of his books--since age 70, he has self-published 10 collections.
    Quite the impressive guy, and poet!

    I Am That Child
    I am that child
    - A flashback, I can see
    That skinny 12 year old – that’s me
    I am that child
    Same stirring brain
    Same piercing eyes
    I am that child again
    With ghosts of yesterday – so near
    Inside, explore – haunting memory so dear

    Yes, I am that child
    Molded, scolded
    “Always, tell the truth!
    Work hard – good grades
    Obey – believe!
    Schma Yisroel, Adomay Elaohanu, Adonai Echod
    Believe, believe in only one great God”
    My feelings strong and sound
    A youth, in spite of all, I hold my ground

    I am that child
    “Yes, Mutti, I will obey”
    Your mores, values mine
    On this and every day
    My people’s belief
    Chiseled, into my very being
    Mysterious, seeking, most divine
    An aberration by design.

    I am that child
    Fearful, the mocking sound
    “Jude, Jude!” (Jew!)
    Everywhere the ominous red swastika flags
    Demeaning news broadcast: Jude, “Israel” Jude, thief, crook, cheater
    Heil – Heil – the sea of raised arms
    Clicking heels – in unison the roar of crowds
    Inhibited – I ask: “Am I really a 3rd class nobody?”
    I, the innocent boy – what is happening?
    “Do I still count? Do I still rate?”
    Everywhere the evil aura of blind (ignorant) hate
    Hasse (hate) die Rasse (the race) – Juden Raus!

    I am that child
    Birthday cake, Chanuka candles, Pfefferminz,
    Maikafer, Lakritze, Mazipan, Blaubeeren
    Rosinen, Schokoladen, Kuchen, Sabbath candles, Sukkoth, Passover

    I am that child whose wings were clipped
    That child, in love, American shipped.
    Those wings now healed, I fly again.
    The ugly scar – so evident always to remain.

    With combat engineers, fought in the European campaign
    Made sure the Nazi hordes would never rise bagain
    GI Bill grateful – 5 years of college
    As public school teacher, entrepreneur, I make the best of knowledge

    I am that child, spared, stateside sent
    Longing, full of music, accomplishment
    Patron to the theater, the symphony and art
    Rainbow colors, writer, admire nature’s beauty, to all I’m a part
    Inquisitive, active, curious,
    Yet daily injustice still makes me furious
    So full of love – With deep conviction I believe
    To share, to give, and to receive

    I am that child,
    A walking, talking treasure trove
    A living legacy, I overcame, I am good
    American – and full of pride
    My sense of humor hemmed inside
    A solid citizen, I radiate in freedom
    (Magnanimous, do my good deeds
    My offspring, honest, conscious of all human needs)
    Yet thankful, touch of humility
    Exude new warmth, reach out, I love this world.
    I am that child.
    If in the maelstrom of arrest been stuck
    1 and ½ million kids perished –
    So mine was more than luck
    I am a product of my heritage proud of my faith
    Part of mankind, a polygot, no master race
    I am unique – I am me, I am so glad
    Alive, right here – never, never to forget
    Too many of my brethren into torture chambers fed
    In spite of it all, life precious (in my veins and blood)
    Vibrant, hopeful – I love mankind
    And I thank you, good people in this world
    As together into the 21st century, we are hurled

    I am that child!

  2. #2
    life is but a dream
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Born in the USSR. Live in NYC.
    we should never forget the holocaust. great poem. the world is ****ed up. but so beautifully nevertheless.
    I only wanted to live in accord with the promptings that came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

  3. #3
    Sweet farewell, Good Nite
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    a droning procession of cliches, all animated by an attractive upbeat rhythm. this poem is the result of a classic ad from some vanity publisher, books i don't intend to buy anytime soon.
    "He was nauseous with regret when he saw her face again, and when, as of yore, he pleaded and begged at her knees for the joy of her being. She understood Neal; she stroked his hair; she knew he was mad."
    ---Jack Kerouac, On The Road: The Original Scroll

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