Esther Cameron



poems for two cities, 2001-2002






                 After the Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem, summer 2001



Jebusite voices

from under

the Holy of Holies,






Rachel, immured, pleads


the adversary-akedas,


visitations of the Unreturned

–a Then-word

speaks itself into the Now –


the gold, dimmed,

fends off its alloys,








Saw-screams of


Temple stones:



cut the seed

from the groin of the past


lest these bones



lest from Judaea's

sifted dust

the Exodus people,

the Sinai people,

the Sabbath people


lest the ashes again

become Ariel


and roar

from the rock of all hearts

the prayer for all nations, against

the Dark Lord.




I have asked for a word to place

on the graves of those who have died


although crows replace the songbirds in our suburbs

and I no longer hear the voice of the mourning dove


although it seems there is an anti-god

who makes many in its image


an anti-life that only desires

to shatter itself into spores of destruction


although from where stood the house of prayer for all nations

a flood of cursing is poured on the world


although threat displays result in deference

and billiard balls vector off from the one that's hit


and the machine ties the hands in complicity

and cruelty opens the gates of the heart


and even the muse can yield to a murderous tremor

and crime commandeer the vocabulary of conscience


and blasts disfigure beauty in the mind

I will say temples still stand1


In the middle of the crater stands the memory of love

lifting her hand

lighting the candles






For Jerry Mander, and for the street musician who played a blues version of “America the Beautiful” near the wrecked wing of the Pentagon


It was not unexpected, after all.

We had been told about a malice growing

Within the social tissue, cell by cell,

Of guns and fuel and information flowing

To men who rage had made mechanical,

Bereft of human conscience, yet well knowing

How to seem human, with an actor’s art,

Until the moment came to blow apart


The illusion that our lives seem to have been --

We knew that too.  We had seen towers crumble

In miniature upon the movie screen

Made huge, and human simulacra tumble

From burning windows; greed had found us keen

For more of this; and if we heard the rumble

Of the real cyclone, heard real sirens blare

Through faked alarms, perhaps we did not care


Enough.  For we had witnessed year by year

The building of a tower that confined

The freedom of the earth to few and fewer,

Had, right by right and grace by grace, resigned

Our share of the inheritance of the poor,

Of justice; one by one the ties that bind

Gave.  In the flux of strangers without end

Distinction wavered between foe and friend.


Yet all our topless towers were built on faith.

Our airplanes were suspended in mid-air

On reckonings to the microfiber’s breadth

That presupposed that human beings fear

For sweet life, do not meditate the death

Of others, or their own.  A patent error,

And many times exposed; its recrudescence

Only reveals that it is of the essence


Of any common world.  On this we build

And build again, as on the lava-flow

The grass re-greens.  Life destined to be spilled

Mounts in the latest vessels, even though

In retrospect it looks as if a skilled

Hand had piled up kindling, row on row,

Tier upon tier, for flames to catch and climb

Most readily, consume in shortest time.


This prodigy of corporate intellect

Assisted by computers and obeyed

By all the power_tools wealth could collect,

Where Mind and Might were stunningly displayed

Against the sky, was in one hour wrecked

By half a dozen men with simple blades,

A few months’ flying_lessons, and the will,

Forged in fanatic fire, to die and kill.


O weep, weep for the dead whose monument

Excelling modern art in harsh profile

Is this stark grid of steel, blackened and bent,

That juts above the settling rubble_pile:

The expert with his earnings still unspent,

The secretary parted from her child,

The fireman who heroically rushed

In to the workers, and with them was crushed!


Yet weep the more, if loss should make more dear

An edifice which when it glittered whole

Spelled slow disaster to the biosphere.

An outgrowth of the greed that rots the bole

Of government and public weal stood here,

A prison for the bought and managed soul,

A torture for the eye that loved to see

Earth-given forms in sweet complexity.


Yes, those who have for decades felt the march

Of corporate power on all that made life fair,

Have seen their land bestrid by golden arch,

By logos replicating without care,

The culture swept by media_storms that parch

The springs of mercy, while bulldozers tear

The earth for mansion-tracts that keep no range

For the working homeless, orphans of this change;


Those who had heard of farmers overseas

Bought out and herded into urban slums

Where prostitution, slavery, disease

May choose them, where fanaticism drums,

While their old fields are sown for luxuries

– Of half a thousand men whose fortune sums

What half of the inhabitants of earth

Could reckon as their aggregate net worth –


Of corporate economies that swell

To nation-size, yet are not ruled like nations

By laws within; where the command to sell

Trumps every claim of justice; where no patience

Holds those who cannot keep the pace, pell-mell;

Where humans are cast off as automation’s

Accomplishments decree them obsolete,

Where the least-paid are lodged upon the street:


To those who can’t forget, even at this moment,

Such things, that heaven-bound simplistic shape

Through which so many bodies fell in torment

From floors whose very height foreclosed escape,

Becomes a kind of allegoric comment,

A dual coffin of the human race,

Of lives summed up in logo, and confined

To the prism of a careless alien mind.


America!  your patriotism wakens,

In rightful anger against those who planned

And grief for all those broken in that breaking –

Will you remember not to this land

Was the allegiance of the power that reckoned

Inside that shape, but to a web that spanned

The globe in an embrace of greed.  That steeple

Was not erected to safeguard your people,


Rather to bring them down until they share

The bed of universal poverty.

And though the doers seek not to repair,

And though their madness works toward tyranny,

And though their leaders manage their despair

And wield it from pure hatred of the free –

May we be free enough to hear what truth

Is brought us by these couriers without ruth.


Or else the fire is not yet out, nor closed

The wound that burns and bleeds us.  From the slain

Among us now are vengeful spirits roused

Which if they find the trail, if they attain

Their rightful quarry, may then rest appeased;

But if it should, like a virus in the vein,

Stay hidden, we may find our infed ire

A foe, than many outward foes more dire.


The White Knight, the defender, sleeps and dreams

A challenger approaches, clad in mail

Of midnight.  Through the lowered visor gleams

An adversary’s glance with fire of bale.

He charges, thrusts – and the opponent seems

To topple back. He sees the visor fall

Back from an empty helm.  Then he hears

Around him – Where? Here? No, there! – taunts and jeers.


May that in us which holds to freedom still

Hold still a moment, while the voices tell us

What is the precious thing they must not kill

In us, no matter how what gods are jealous,

And what are our own fetters, which with skill

We must unbind.  If we rebuild our palace,

Let it be open to the air again

And open to the pleadings of the sane.


I, a poor poet, made this song – among

America’s deaf ears a doubtful bother –

Just for a croon to calm the pain that stung

These guts – to place one word upon another,

And on the harp of civic song, restrung

As best I could, invoke the common mother

Of song, of earth, and of community –

One of Her names, perhaps, is Liberty.


O Lady, may your torch have light to shine

On us even now, and show things as they are,

That we may rescue Ours from Mine and Thine

And bind to peace the god or gods of war,

Silence the curses that befoul the shrine

Of prayer, and turn again the peoples’ ear

Toward the true word, the honest song, the Law,

That having known, we may repair the flaw.


                                                September 12-13, 2008







      Teach me Your ways

                              Psalm 27

O God, in all our shatterings

We turn to You, though it is plain

You move not to prevent these things;

Those they befall cry out in vain.

When the wicked call their evil “God”

You lift no grim chastising rod.


Throughout the universe we see

The workings of mechanic fate,

In atom and in galaxy,

In life-forms that configurate

To their environment’s demand,

Their habits, as their forms, unplanned.


The human constitution seems

A mere contraption patched together;

The human brain, its fears and dreams,

Desires that urge, restraints that tether,

And customs whether cruel or kind,

Which among human tribes we find,


Each strand, each trait through time evolved,

From some advantage it conferred,

With contradictions unresolved

While self-deception veils the Absurd:

No star cries out, if circumstance

Should favor fraud and violence.


And yet in us – by chance, maybe –

An eye was opened that could gaze

Beyond its own necessity,

Could lift itself above the maze

Of reflex, and with plural view

Could see the sight of others too.


And with this eye our language grew

That names and sets things in relation,

The ear that sounds for what is true,

The will toward higher integration,

Justice, and beauty, to make whole

Both world and individual soul.


And in all this Your shape appears,

O You whom we have named the King,

In Whose light, when our vision clears,

We see each person and each thing

And almost, almost can divine

A world made one beneath Your sign.


We know that not by wrongful might

Could Your dominion come to be,

But by shared truth and shared insight

In covenanted minds made free

From fear of one another’s hand,

Where only force by force is banned.


Now therefore since accusers rise,

Command our hearts be steadfast still

To seek Your face; O make us wise

To walk Your ways, with strength and skill,

Through whatsoever war and peace

You bid us make, till war shall cease.










I never liked the man before,

Thought him a cypher elevated

To tasks he was not fitted for,

But now I think I underrated

His fight and basic decency.

Though heaven knows I don’t agree


With much that he has said and done,

We would do well to keep in mind

Those parables where the Third Son

Comes out ahead.  What need will find

In anyone, can’t be forecast,

And they are wisest who speak last.


Many an evil ails this nation,

That’s true today as yesterday,

But in the enemy we’re facing

Evil has undivided sway.

We need to draw a line in sand

And take an unambiguous stand.


This he has done.  And now we have

To hope that he can make it stick,

Not be too clever by one-half

And superciliously dissect

Words that ring true, but heed their call,

For with this truth we stand or fall.


Those who acknowledge truth when spoken

By other folks, ungrudgingly,

May also hope by the same token

That other folks will likewise see

Our truth in time.  All truth is one;

Let it be heard, and justice done.










         Our speech inaudible at ten paces.

                                    -- Ossip Mandel'shtam


Last night I watched part of a concert

Meant to commemorate the brave.

United Way seems to have sponsored

The effort. Listeners called and gave


For the relief of the disaster.

But how such moanings could inspire

The qualities we need to master

In order to put out this fire


Escapes me. There was not one phrase

To stick in mind, no bar you'd hum

To get you through the draining days,

Only the same impoverished, dumb


Stuff that has sapped the mind of youth

For decades now. No grace whatever,

No ringing lines to carry truth,

Nothing for folks to sing together.


So here I sit and grumble out

This verse no one is going to read

Save fellow-bards. The lines are cut,

The common people can't be reached.


But I have said, and say, that we

Need to revise our own convention

And figure out some strategy

For to regain our kin's attention.


Yoo-hoo! Is anybody there?

Speak up and answer, if you hear,

In verse, if for your Muse you care –

The summons of the hour is clear.


Civilization's final test

Is now in progress. Everyone

Is drafted. We too have our quest.

Our mustering has just begun.


I hereby thrust a stake in sand

And found the Civic Poets' Guild.

Bard, may this be your heart's command –

We have a culture to rebuild.




September 27, 2001-May 2002


“I never liked the man before,

Thought him a cypher elevated

To tasks he had no fitness for,

But now I think I underrated

His fight and basic decency.

Though Heaven knows I disagree


With much that he has said and done,

We would do well to keep in mind

Those parables where the third son

Comes out ahead.  What need will find

In anyone can’t be forecast.”

– I wrote those words, a few days past,


After a speech in which he seemed

To take an unambiguous stand.

Methought determination gleamed

From words that drew a line in sand.

The hope we were not leaderless

Had many charms, I do confess.


Poor sinner.  Now he tries to keep

His upper lip stiff.  Utters threats

And tells us to go back to sleep,

Courts treacherous alliance, lets

Israel know they must give in –

The “war on terror” thus begins.


America!  Do you exist

Today as more than an address

For corporations that could list

Riyad or Singapore with less

Convenience, maybe, for the nonce,

But things move quickly.  We were once


Rich in all natural resources

And in our home-forged industry,

We had (unsapped by media-forces)

Some culture of integrity,

And (consequently) we could choose

Leaders who’d act upon our views.


My father!  Late in dreams I saw him.

He noted certain of these things

In At the Crossroads.  It would gnaw him

To know our state.  He knew the stings

Of slighted foresight – tried to shake

The leaders of this land awake


While I, his daughter, tried to tell him

That not on mineral wealth alone

A nation stands, but on truth’s spelling

In minds no profit-power can own –

That counsel in community,

Perhaps, might keep the nation free;


I urged him help me to convene

People of foresight and good will

Who might assess the current scene

And with coordinated skill

Might then prescribe and recommend

In serious speech from friend to friend


A plan of action.  I relied

Upon the words of Jewish sages

Whose thought, through long experienced tried

Had kept a people through dark ages.

Unless some teaching hedge it round,

Democracy’s an empty sound.


Perhaps I could not say it well,

Or else my quirks confused the case –

Wisdom is always slow to jell

While history keeps a quickening pace,

Nor seemed my thoughts proportional

To institutions that built tall.


America!  A name, no more.

Mocked by her children, Liberty

Stands – for how long – beside the port,

Awaiting a foul shivaree.

Is anywhere that name still dear

Enough to rouse some Paul Revere


To ride through sleeping streets and summon

Defenders to some mustering-hill?

That would be too much more than human.

The dream showed me a funeral.

Well may our enemies rejoice –

We are defeated half by choice.


I find no cheerful note to end on,

But may these verses tell a few

That here is one they can depend on

To make a note of what is true,

Who knows the odds, but still is game

If anybody feels the same.



We say it’s not too late because we say

it’s not too late.  We carry on in words,

ignoring that whatever undergirds

our overconfidence was knocked away

some time ago.  We’re like a character

in a cartoon.  We’ve run out on thin air

and haven’t yet looked down, though we will soon.

Then maybe we will reconvene ourselves

from smithereens, as in a Loony Tune.

As in a dream we watch the enormous structure

in which we live.  It slowly-swiftly shelves

into the dust.  And yet no sudden rupture.

A social body inwardly dissolved

prepared this first great haemorrhage.  And who’s

awake?  To whom shall I report this, Muse?






Go back to sleep.  Don’t wonder what the pain meant.

We’ll sell you your demise as entertainment.



It is a common doctrine, though unsound,

That falling objects will not hit the ground.






Out in far Afghanistan our men are fighting

To preserve the world from terror’s evil sway,

And to you, our country’s President, I’m writing

In the hope that this will reach you in some way.


You must know, far more than I do, how enormous

Are the powers that this evil has in tow,

What percentage of the energies that warm us

Rise from springs in the dominion of a foe –


In a region ruled by tyrants whose clear purpose

Is to bring the world beneath a cruel law,

And who scarcely try to wear a sheepskin surface

To conceal their deep desire to eat us raw.


We, who’ve drifted, cannot get back what it’s lost us

All at once, nor strike at every hostile state,

But if standing by our friends is going to cost us,

We had better know it sooner than too late.


I’m no military expert, but I’ve noted

Here and there what martial artists have to say.

“Take a centered stance” (that statement’s often quoted)

“In yourself – and let blows come from where they may.”


Now our friends are us, and all those who love freedom.

We must back them, whether odds be short or long.

For the others will not be there when we need ‘em,

And a nation must be faithful to be strong.


And to Israel our nation owes a vision

That has guarded us.  On history’s stormy course

We were steadied by the voice of our tradition:

“Cling to fairness, and you need not bow to force.”


Mr. President, God has not changed those orders.

You are chosen now to lead us in this fight.

Softly speak – but firmly stand at Israel’s borders,

And America will back you in the right.


For in liberty our nation was created,

And it has a strength that’s always seen it through.

Till the terror we are facing has abated

You may count on us – as we will count on you.





The scene is somewhere in the afterworld, in the region (undescribed by Dante) of souls whose fate is yet to be decided.


Dear Robert:

                       It is over fifty years

since our exchange about the poet’s duty,

if any, to respond to what’s afoot

on the historic plane.  The Second World

War, in that case.  A war with certain nations

who were engaged in killing off my cousins

and anybody else they had no use for.

Our countrymen at first had been reluctant

to join the fight.  The First World War had been

so horrible, so pointless, we’d concluded

that any war was something to stay out of,

and we stayed out, until bombed into it.

The country then responded, as it had to.

Men were called up and factories were converted

to making weapons.  Journalists and actors

picked up the drum.  And even serious artists –

the term I guess means those who take themselves

seriously -- felt drafted to compose

something that would contribute to the struggle.

But you -- the greatest poet of our time --

you stayed above the battle.  When I begged you,

to leave, for once, your vigil of detachment,

you answered me with a long blank-verse letter,

justifying yourself.  I saw that I

had overstepped one of those fences friends

seem to need to keep up, as well as neighbors,

and I accepted your position, as

a part of what you were, and we stayed friends.

I let your word of silence be the last word.

I couldn’t, of course, have forced you into speech,

and I felt awe before the greater poet –

it feels presumptuous even to apply

the term “poet” to both of us.  I was

just an anthologist.  Although I couldn’t

resist the chance to sneak myself and Jean

into the great anthologies I gathered,

I knew my place, at bottom -- and knew yours.

You won your point; and on their front, the Allies

won the war.  The fascists were defeated.

And I can’t even say it was no thanks

to you, whose sturdy verses may have served

as shelter from the blasts of cosmic madness

to many souls; helped men rained round by bullets

to keep in mind New England’s quiet hills

under the sane, remote, noncombatant stars. 

Whereas Millay -- what did she give by writing

shrill propaganda, tearing up her art

as primitive women tear their clothes and cheeks?

Nothing that lasted, certainly.  And likely

even the gesture, at the time, appeared

like mere hysterics.  Folks stop listening

when song becomes a screech. 

                           At any rate,

things seemed to have worked out, in ‘45.

We had our peace, then, for awhile, although

the mechanism of combat, in our souls

as well as in the economy, proceeded

to throw the image of another foe

upon the screen for bravery to tilt at,

even if it did turn out to be a windmill.

Our poets thought themselves well out of that.

We had protestors, bards who like Millay

thought earnestness excused them for bad art

and lack of intellectual clarity.

And we had those who went on making verses,

good verses maybe, calling on your spirit,

whereby it was increasingly assumed,

as beyond question, that a poem has

no civic mission, and is draft-exempt.

Around us we saw equity eroding,

the culture that had made us what we were

being gradually leached away, replaced

by predatory lures that learned to play on,

and magnify, the worst traits of the worst.

But still we made this none of our affair.

And at the same time, on the edge of vision

a new and ancient enemy of freedom

was gathering strength.  We did not give the warning.

We had disclaimed the poet’s ancient claim

to the prophetic soul.  Could we have seen

more clearly than the rest? If we had felt

a people’s destiny laid on our shoulders,

would it have weighted us to sink down deep

enough to see the roots of things to come?


I hear your reasons -- oh, I hear them still.

You didn’t want “to sing and cheer young men

into dangers you could not get hurt in.”

You didn’t want to praise the likes of Stalin,

to bless the necessary compromises

by which a nation gets things done in war.

But was that, Robert, what was asked of you?

Is it not the commission of the poet --

a standing order, not from government --

just to be open to what’s going on,

to take the shock into one’s constitution,

and, facing one’s own danger as a poet,

work out some form to hold it?  Yeats once said

it takes a greater courage to descend

into one’s own depths, than to die in battle.

That goes too far, but there is something in it.

“Aw, come on off your cosmic politics,”

you wrote.  That kind of joke cannot be answered

by someone like myself, with little wit,

but it’s what Dante called il gran refiuto.


Well, and since I seem to be assuming,

despite myself, the stance of wrathful prophet,

I’ll mention one more thing.  You wrote to me:

“I know what’s wrong: the war is more or less

About the Jews and as such you believe

I ought to want to take some part in it.”

And later on you came back to the subject:

“The best part of my friendship for your race

Is that I thought of it as lost in ours,

And the long time its taken me to see

It was in part at least a race apart.

And even the part that is a race apart

I sympathize with.  Give them back I say

All Palestine.  No race without a country

Can be a nation.  I take sides with all

Who want a platform they can call their own

To speak their language from -- a platform country.”

But still you felt it wasn’t your department

to speak on our behalf.

                                          I should have quoted

Donne to you.  I should have said: the war

is not about the Jews as persons only,

not about us as a nation only.

It is about the honor of the nations,

it is about the hope of right, not might,

ruling the world, it is about the future

of human consciousness and human conscience,

the good I always thought we meant by God.

It is about a promise never kept

so far; but, so far, not quite thrown away.

You could have said that better, Robert Frost.

You could have helped us see what we were doing,

you could have warned us, then, of peacetime dangers

that undermined what we had fought to save.

And now the world must play that play again,

with good and evil still more intermingled,

more intricately, lovingly entwined.

What subtle skill of soul could thread this maze

perhaps you could have shown us, if you’d wished to.


I let the matter drop.  The war had taken

enough from me, without your friendship too.

And then I feared to stir you into anger,

make matters worse.  I wrote no poems either,

those years.  I was too personally involved,

afraid that it would sound like special pleading.

Perhaps I should have tried it anyway.

Although I had no more than middling talent

perhaps I would have found a certain greatness

in grappling with the impossible.  The prophets --

were they such geniuses?  God gave them words

to tell the truth.  They told it without quibbling,

and probably (one hopes) did not engage

in contests as to who’s the greater prophet.


I answer you at this late date because

these questions, these regrets have haunted me

into the afterworld, have given me

no peace in death.  And how now, Robert Frost?

You must sense that the fire of burning books

would scorch our souls.  In the name of all that’s human

my ghost commands you, ghost, to walk and speak,

appear to all you’ve influenced and tell them

that you were wrong.


                                               fall 2001



                        dedicated to the memory of Naomi Shemer


Near a great school of many fish

A barracuda’s head

Suddenly loomed.  At his first gulp

Thousands of them were dead.


The barracuda tracked the school.

He came now every day.

The fishes realized he was

Not going to go away.


Then certain fish began to say,

“He’s really rather nice,

And in his gut those he engulfs

Enjoy fish-paradise.


The barracuda smoothly said,

“Of course, it is not right

To eat a fish.  If this occurred,

It was an oversight.”


The barracuda and the fish

Could coexist, as long

As there were fish.  But they ran out,

And with them ends the song.


[Note: this poem was written before I became aware of Naomi Shemer’s “The Shark.”]





Peace: wrap that word in velvet of the heart,

wrap it three times around, then reverently

place it within a golden box within

a silver casket in a copper case

within a chest of iron with a lock

of adamant, and five steel bands around it. 

Carefully dig a hole between the roots

of the Tree of Life, the World-tree.  Put the chest

inside that hole, and fill the hole again,

carry away the earth the chest displaces,

fit the sod back above the dug-out place,

water the sod.  Then write in cryptic code

upon a slip of parchment, the exact

location of that hole, and fold it up,

place it in a locket on a chain

and put that chain around your neck and vow

to wear it till you may again return.

Then to the place where you may find the sword

meant for you, go, with the blessing of the Earth.

Pray for the strength to pull it from the stone. 





Do not suppose me less aware than you

Of the dark wave now cresting overhead,

Nor think the drone of ever-nearing dread

Does not sound constantly and loudly through

My days and hours.  Almost before I grew

I knew that we are twinned to monsters bred

In the same womb of time; that our bright thread

Is on the shears; that our large bill is due.


But no tear falls for towers tenantless

Chiseled in sandstone by the desert gale

That cracks them as it carved.  We could not mourn

Had we not seen honor and loveliness.

I hope to see and show them yet, nor fail

To witness that for which our kind was born.





More than we wish to understand, there are

today these others who understand each other,

who understand us well enough for their

purposes.  They know that we would rather

assume all will be well than assume the bother

of living, as we must, on the alert;

they guess we lack the energy to gather

as we are gathered by the will to hurt

into a target, our selves that range apart,

our thoughts unwilling to be organized.

We’re stalled on the tracks, our engine will not start,

when it hits we shall be again surprised

though we dream screams.  I cannot sleep, and so

would wake you.  Take my hand, tell me you know.





In memory of Simon Halkin, 1898-1987;

and of Danit Dagan (24),  Uri Felix (23), Orit Ozarov (28), Nir Borochov (22), Limor Ben-Shoham (27), Livnat Dvash (28), Natanel Kochavi, (31),  Tali Eliahu (26), Dan Emunei (23), and Baruch Lerner (29)


If we live like mice in a hole, the enemy will have won.

                                                                                          – Baruch Lerner


 I used to meet a friend at that cafe,

an ancient poet who loved Whitman and Shelley.

He’d walk there from his home until one day,

  he found the road too long.  But what a spell he

still knew how to cast, that traveller

through mental space!  Nor did he spare to tell me

  harsh truths about our present when and where.

Some rage at what the years had done to him

helped to stoke a vision that burned clear,

  discussing now the poets, now the grim

outlines of a people’s fate he saw,

like his decay, through no self-pleasing scrim,

  the cracks that kept on spreading from the flaw

that always had been there, beneath the stress

there was no way to end.  And I, a raw

  newcomer to this grief, what could I guess?

I don’t remember any music’s jangle

behind our talk.  It was a quiet place,

  though it was situated at the angle

of two main streets.  It was there, the other night,

that hate again blew up, leaving a tangle

  of mangled bodies.  Nothing that I write

will piece that quiet where he said to me

– from the ancient noble skull what angry light

  blazed when he said it – “Someday, humanity

will grow up!”  I do not suppose it will

now.  What chance has talk and amity,

  the growth of thought, with those who die to kill,

pushed by a mass indifferent to pain?

All that remains will be the inexorable,

  the automatic progeny of Cain.



  Of course, I still say we should meet and talk –

some place, of course, where we can watch the door.

To keep from being scattered by the shock

  Is still the inmost battle of this war.

G-d wagered us, it seems, on consciousness,

and we do what we were created for

  when we take thought together.  Then, no less

than when we pray, we serve the G-d that made

the world of which the wicked make a mess.

  Let us consider all that still may aid

our cause, to whom and how we may appeal,

and how our various strengths may be arrayed

  to amplify each other.  As we feel

so let us think, Jews, menschen.  It is late;

but still our G-d of life is true and real,

  and there is no inevitable fate.



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