Gestapo Crows: Holocaust Poems

by Louis Daniel Brodsky


The Ice Age

This crisp, glistening December morning,
As he drives away from the City,
His eyes rise
Through thousands of chimney flues
Spewing innocuous plumes of gas-furnace heat
That condenses to white smoke on hitting the air.
He imagines myriad anonymous spirits
Going about their routine business
Of wiping Sleep’s hallucinations from their eyes
And slipping into necessary disguises
As they cake fresh makeup over old layers
Or stretch facial masks into place
Before donning sheep costumes appropriate to jobs
Each performs with soulless zealotry.

He sees them, the entire herd,
Languishing in a collective shower,
Dressing, then driving in their cattle cars
To work on Death’s assembly lines
Fabricating ashes designed by inhuman beings
For human ghosts to use throughout their lives
Floating from limbo to Limbo
Below God’s boneyard between firmament and Eternity.
That he’s been gifted with these powers of insight
Doesn’t make him privileged, just chosen;
He’d sacrifice anything but his faith
To drive by winter-bound houses like these
Without remembering Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz,
Which he almost escaped fifty ice ages ago.

Use the player below to listen to Louis Daniel Brodsky read this poem.



This book, dealing with Holocaust victims, refugees, second-generation "survivors," and today’s family, is narrated by an American Jewish poet, son of neither victims nor survivors, who does not presume to speak for the dead but rather to the living — one human plea for universal peace.


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

These magnificent poems are an assault on our complacency, our sleeping memories. Every line . . . reminds us that each of us died in the ovens of the holocaust. . . . Brodsky’s poetic voice is a haunting, anguished triumph of memory over evil.
— Stephen B. Oates, author of With Malice Toward None

To read Charles Adès Fishman's interview of Mr. Brodsky, about his Holocaust writing, please click here.