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Cleansings
by Michael R. Burch

Walk here among the walking specters. Learn
inhuman patience. Flesh can only cleave
to bone this tightly if their hearts believe
that God is good, and never mind the Urn.

A lentil and a bean might plump their skin
with mothers’ bounteous, soft-dimpled fat
(and call it “health”), might quickly build again
the muscles of dead menfolk. Dream, like that,

and call it courage. Cry, and be deceived,
and so endure. Or burn, made wholly pure.
One’s prayer is answered,
“god” thus unbelieved.

No holy pyre this—death’s hissing chamber.
Two thousand years ago—a starlit manger,
weird Herod’s cries for vengeance on the meek,
the children slaughtered. Fear, when angels speak,

the prophesies of man.
Do what you "can,"
not what you must, or should.
They call you “good,”

dead eyes devoid of tears; how shall they speak
except in blankness? Fear, then, how they weep.
Escape the gentle clutching stickfolk. Creep
away in shame to retch and flush away

your ***** from their ashes. Learn to pray.

Keywords/Tags: Holocaust, poem, ashes, crematorium, chimney, smoke, gas, chamber, Auschwitz, starvation, walking dead, mass graves, genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism, fascism, cruelty, brutality, inhumanity, horror
Buna
by Primo Levi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Mangled feet, cursed earth,
the long interminable line in the gray morning
as Buna smokes corpses through industrious chimneys...

Another gray day like every other day awaits us.

The terrible whistle shrilly announces dawn:
"Rise, wretched multitudes, with your lifeless faces,
welcome the monotonous hell of the mud...
another day’s suffering has begun!"

Weary companion, I know you well.

I see your dead eyes, my disconsolate friend.
In your breast you bear the burden of cold, deprivation, emptiness.
Life long ago broke what remained of your courage.

Colorless one, you once were a real man;
a considerable woman once accompanied you.

But now, my invisible companion, you lack even a name.
So forsaken, you are unable to weep.
So poor in spirit, you can no longer grieve.
So tired, your flesh can no longer shiver with fear...

My once-strong man, now spent,
were we to meet again
in some other world, beneath some sunnier sun,
with what unfamiliar faces would we recognize each other?

Buna was the largest Auschwitz sub-camp, with around 40, 000 foreigners “workers” who had been enslaved by the Nazis. Primo Levi called the Jews of Buna the “slaves of slaves” because the other slaves outranked them. Despite Buna’s immense size and four years of activity, according to Levi it never produced a kilo of its intended product: synthetic rubber. Levi described Buna as “desperately and essentially opaque and gray.” He said not a blade of grass grew within the compound because its soil had been impregnated with the “poisonous juices of coal and petroleum” so that nothing was alive but machines and slaves, with the former “more alive” than the latter. Levi also related hearing a Buna Kapo say that the only way Jews could leave Auschwitz was “through the Chimney” of the crematorium. It is possible that the companion being addressed in “Buna” is Primo Levi himself, recognizing what he had been reduced to. Keywords/Tags: Primo Levi, translation, Holocaust poem, Auschwitz, Buna, mud, chimney, smoke, crematorium, corpses, bodies, death, ******, starvation, gray, colorless, invisible, nameless, slave, slaves, slave labor, horror, hell
TheMystiqueTrail Sep 2018
I watched the coal-black smoke
of the ancient chimney
as it chased a messianic dream
swirling up the smoggy expanse
to the freedom of the blue sky
for a lungful of sanity.

I watched the gloom
of the soot-smeared boy
in tattered khaki
as he longed for the dark wings of smoke
to take him on its pilgrimage to freedom.

Withered by the corrupting fumes of the chimney
he lay there.

With no hands to hold to the smoke
as it spiralled up,
with no breath to feel
the freedom of the azure sky,
he lay there.

Like a faint twig
feeding the wrath of a funeral pyre
he lay there!
Cné Oct 2017
Shall I speak of autumn leaves while summer doldrums reign?
Wistfully, I wait for frost to paint my window pane.

Dare I yet imagine smoke from chimneys wafting forth?
Can you taste the chilling breeze that lingers from the north?

There is no time like autumn, when relief from summer's sway
Gives rise to fireside interludes and sweet rolls in the hay.
It’s in the 90s here in Texas. Where is the cooler temps!
MOTV Sep 2016
I
Smoke
Heavy
Steady
Like
A
Chimney
Jiminy
Crickets
My
Flow
Is
My
­Trinket
For
The
Fire
To
Rise
Higher
To
The
Top
Past
The
Ceiling
A­nd
Cause
My
Flow
Like
Smoke
That
It
Spreads
Like
Clouds
To
Heaven­s
Oh
Chimney
We
Proud
Loud
Can
Be
Seen
From
Around
Town
Flashy
Th­ey
Ain't
Clashin'
With
The
G
In
Me
Money
Is
The
Motivation
And
Ke­y
In
Me
Make
It
Make
It
Get
Bigger
Houses
With
Chimneys
Past
The
­Ceiling
To
The
Skies
My
Flow
For
Ever
Rises
Bringing
Clouds
From
­The
Chimneys
As
I
Smoke
Flow
And
Be
Viben'
Rhymin'
Grinding
Mindi­n'
Mining
As
I
Put
Gold
In
The
Fire
I
Desired
From
The
Chimney
Se­nd
That
To
All
The
Empires
Watching
It
Sparkle
And
Shine
Smoke
Co­ming
Out
To
Find
Its
Way
Out
That
Good
Ol'
Chimney
Of
Mine
Eleanor Rigby Jul 2016
if you are the christmas tree
i am ashes in his chimney

it's not the same, is it?


--Watercolour
Sally A Bayan Feb 2016
)))) fire (((
                 is:::::::::waning  
               red::coals::dying
           the smoke climbs up to the chimney
             the smoke goes out of the chimney  
              it:::::::::::escapes
              doesn'­t:::::::::get
              to::::the::::::eyes
              jus­t::::::::::::soars
                       to::::::the::::::sky        
              joins:::::::clouds
              leaving:::::ashes­
              to::cool:::::down
              blown:::::::easily­
                             by::::a::::::strong              
              w i n d :::::::::::or
               through:::::::::::a
               metal::::::::;:pipe
                airborne:::::dust
           ­      forces::::a:::blink
                it may::it::could
                bring::::tears::to
               ­      melt::the::cloud    
                 that::::::darkens
                                               ­       eyes::and::mind                                    
                 ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
                 it::::::is::;;;;;;:time
                 to:::::::::welcome
                  an::>>arrow::>>
                 of::fresh:::>hope
                 into::your:heart
                 never:::::let::::go
                  LIFE:is:precious
          ­       LIFE:::is:::::short
                                      inhale:­sweet:air                    
                  \::::breathe:::/
                   \::::LOVE::/
                   \::::AG:::/
                   \:::A:::/
                   \:::I::/
                   \N/
                   \/



         Sally

                     Copyright November 10, 2015
                  Rosalia Rosario A. Bayan
Cigarette after cigarette
You smoke until you choke
Grinding **** and sparking bowls
Does it not get old?
I fell in love with a chimney
As wonderful as he may be
But I question how much more
I can take of this
Before brushing off the smoke
To leave
For Garrett Hedley

— The End —