Holocaust

Original Text: 
Ostriker, Alicia. The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998: 225-226.
1And about burning people---
2They were never wrong, the old
3Old masters,
4How it never stopped, it is done all the time,
5How you must admit there is an absolute
6Seductiveness, a classic primal urge---
7Is not my word like as a fire?
8Oh Jephthah's daughter, ah Joan,
9Oh Jews and Protestants, ah Sir Thomas More,
10Oh Giordano Bruno, ah heretics, witches, fanatics---
11Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
12In the Carolina woods, a splash of gasoline
13And the sudden smell of burning flesh
14Oh Jericho, ah Carthage,
15Oh Hiroshima,
16Masses at once, masses
17In the fiery patriotic mind,
18Men stroking themselves
19Eyes half shut, women aroused,
20You as a child first feeling that excitement
21At the cave mouth---
22Sparks flying upward to emulate stars
23You dancing to emulate the fierce commotion
24Your mouth greasy after eating
25Running with the dogs round the circle
26The hiss, the crackle, the boom, the fragrance---
27The sweet savor---
28You draw close enough to set
29Two hard fires ablaze in your two eyes
30And they never go out---
31Mean little fires,
32Satan's toys,
33God's flames.
34A rapid, persistent
35Chemical
36Reaction.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
2009
Form: 
Special Copyright: 

"Holocaust" © copyright Alicia Ostriker. RPO is grateful to the poet for her generous permission to publish this poem.