The Swastika Clock: Holocaust Poems

by Louis Daniel Brodsky

Chronic Absenteeism

On his way to work, this dank, gray Monday,
He drives past dreary houses
Surrounded by dormant grass, melting snow,
Their splotchy plots snot-filled handkerchiefs
Or ghettos leveled, to flush the last Jew from hiding . . .
From his undependable memory
Of times leached into forgetting, over half a century . . .
From existence in a world gone insane.
Suddenly, he spies a shapeless black lump
That could be any animal's carcass
Were it not for the synaptic flash
That lets him register this anomaly as a frozen crow,
On its back, eyes heavenward,
In an attitude of arrogant outrage.
His shock is a plastic bag thrust over his head.
He gasps; breathing seizes, ceases.
The past goes out and in and out of focus.
He's never seen one of these scavenging creatures dead,
Never had any reason to hope
That someday the species might vanish from the planet.
As he reaches the four-way stop,
Recovers in time to punch his brakes to the floor,
He encounters a Korps of crows
Strutting back and forth, from shoulder to median,
Oblivious of rush-hour traffic,
Carrying off beakfuls of hapless possum —
Fur, skin, sinew, organs, bones.
All the way to his office, he shudders, cringes;
Then he arrives, to begin another missed day.


In The Swastika Clock, Louis Daniel Brodsky writes the daily log of his passion, his anger, his desolation, his entrails-deep pain. In the ticking darkness of the Holocaust, in which we have lived, these past 70 years, and driven by his unremitting war against forgiveness and forgetting, he hurls rant after rant at us, his amazed and chastened readers, giving full rein to his Diasporan anger over what was done to his people, the Jews of Europe, during the Shoah decade, when millions were not merely murdered but mortified to the quick, mutilated beyond recognition, massacred in nearly unimaginable ways. In this book, which packs the wallop of a centuries'-long scream, Brodsky refuses to mask the occasion by singing of reconciliation and healing, and yet, at key moments of this late hour, his raging words modulate, to deliver demolishing insights to our shattered hearts.

— Charles Fishman, author of Chopin's Piano and editor of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust

This collection deserves a place of honor on the shelves of anyone who wants to come to grips with the Holocaust's overpowering challenges and who appreciates the work of a splendidly gifted poet.

St. Louis Jewish Light


The pains of tragedy can be renewed by reminders of the past. The Swastika Clock is a collection of poetry from Louis Daniel Brodsky, as he presents his own recollection of the tragedy, its events, and the pain that has followed in the past century. The Swastika Clock is a strong recommendation for poetry collections with a focus on history.

Midwest Book Review

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



This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.