A Word, Please

I wrote this poem several years ago. It bears repeating.

A Word, Please

In January 1942, fifteen men sit in a room,
discussing the “final solution” to a question

disguised as a people.

They compete to sound off to make the bigger splash
as they plan the best way to test out and up

through extermination.

Today, a theater Holocaust puppet sits silently
perched in a café window on our souls
while two folk talk

business as usual.

Sallow eyes fully void of life watch.
He’s all wood and paint chipped thin to crack
as his gears and joints creak beneath their weighty worth.
The daily litany patrols back and forth,

casual absurd

without notice for the watcher
marked for vigil in felt and papier maché,
his only armor a yellow star,

a ghost light

that shines brighter than the sun setting
beyond brick glass and wire.

If I trace the life lines from his making
to his playing, I can see him rise
hear him speak to tell his story in a whisper
a secret faint as the smell of cold coffee,
but it’s just for show. A masquerade
that everyone has been told

and should know.

Though somehow they don’t. seem. to.

No, this boy, this metonymy in spare parts
needs others to speak in order to be heard—
and not just for him, not just for his, because

he owns us all.

He appears, like the tree in the forest, to strike a chord,
displacing air, making waves,

without a word.

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