Zentral Europa Chronicles

Gerard Sarnat 

I. Tracing Destruction

 

“This train is bound for gory [sic], this train,

This train is bound for glory, this train,

This train is bound for glory nobody

rides it but the righteous and holy,

This train is bound for glory, this train”

— Woody Guthrie

 

Gesundheit good luck to be born Jewish in the US

after both parents fled – as a still guilty adult I grew

a Sarnatsky graybeard then prayed myself from one

decrepit synagogue to another yet another all across

           Zentral Europaisa.

Budapest to Vienna then Prague toward Berlin,

cush seats, hot food, Internet access, first class;

Gerard Sarnat takes in the green pastoral scene

where crops abound surrounding clear ponds

                               and churches’ beauty.

Trying to keep in mind the terrible fate of Czech

ancestors Nazis considered hybrid mongrels,

I’ll definitely look them up if we make it down

to Terezín’s death camps.

 

 II. Starý židovský hřbitov (old Jewish cemetery)

 It was a surreal hide & seek Sarnatsky hoot when I looked not down but straight

out the 3rd story window of Prague’s strangely-named Old-New Synagogue:

a thousand Gesundheit headstones stared back at me like a flock of owls

 

which was a popular medieval canard for Jewish creatures of darkness.

Through the translator, the young rabbi rotely replied that during

ghetto times we weren’t allowed to replace our buried people.

 

Space was spare so the congregation continued to add more landfill,

fourteen layers of soiled graves & still counting; the only

exceptions are rich or famous elders who bob to the top.

 

As legend goes, Bavaria/Moravia’s chief rebbe, Judah Loew ben Bezalel,

fashioned a magical Yiddish Superman from clay — thus his golem

guards that hallowed aching ground from defenestration to this day.

stary-zidovsky-hrbitov-old-jewish-cemetery

 

 

 

III. Ich War Just A Stenography Pool Girl

“I greet with wonderful energy the American

people…who are working to make America great.”

— Mussolini, speaking in English eighty years ago

 

Gesundheit half asleep during July’s Jewish Summer

Film Festival matinee opened gratis to the public.

A German Life wakes me with a baffling close-up:

elephantine wrinkles perhaps turn out to document

a tortoise sticking its snail’s neck out big time.

 

While the camera pans this captive menagerie,

do you see one brittle stray gray hair peeking

from the dim quivering gelatinous cinematic

glob of a fat catfish squirming on its spike, or

a stinking oyster on the half shell’s free lunch?

 

105 years-old and still counting, Frau Pomsel’s

cold, hypothyroid thick-skinned exquisitely

slow monotone begins to stew on how Then’s

black and white Second Weltkreig hot mess

was sooo removed from Nowaday’s sewage.

 

Her ex-private secretary’s once nimble thumbs

run over a handful of sepia photos of the iconic

Botticelli watercolors which Joseph Goebbels

confiscated to hang in his Propaganda Ministry

palace built to last at least Eintausend Jahren.

 

But certain unexpected events led to others:

Ruskie hordes overran Berlin, Der Führer

did himself in, Brunhilde’s vain boss arranged

similar cyanide for each kid before putting

a luger down the wife’s mouth then his own.

 

The talking head dragged from their bunker

spends a decade in Russian prison — ultimately

her Prussian sense of duty considers the score

approximately even — a shining example of

Hannah Arendt’s Eichmannoid “banality of evil.”

 

In retrospect, she is terribly shocked to learn

(maybe witness?) her gentle urbane chief

took imperceptible steps toward the dark side —

before hesitantly self-servingly admitting Herr

morphed into a sinister “ranting raging midget.”

 

At our journey’s worst, we’re all clones of humans

whose antennae conveniently prefer the sand; if

They scapegoated deviants then, surely now We need

to overcome being clogs in similar insane righteous

machines, must trumpet again today’s demagogues.

 

Gerard Sarnat MD’s been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY was selected for Inauguration Day pamphlet distribution. Gerry’s widely published in periodicals. He’s built/staffed homeless clinics, Stanford professor, HMO CEO. Collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burningman (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). www.gerardsarnat.com.