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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: Kristallnacht
By Kenn Allan
05/09/07


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From adolescent dreams, I wake,
No hope for blessed sleep remains—
Embracing silence in the dark,
I search for light past shuttered panes.

But no, my window is secure
Against this chilly autumn night;
On anxious footsteps, Mutter came
To stroke my brow and locked it tight.

Where is the drone of Vater's voice
Recounting speeches word for word?
Instead, my mutter's gentle sobs
Intone her sorrows yet incurred.

I risk a peek despite her plea
To stay in bed once I retire;
Two chairs sit empty, poised between
The radio and raging fire.

But as I ponder this, it comes—
A vengeful thunder in the street;
The pounding of ten thousand drums
On cobblestones by marching feet.

I seek the solace of my bed
And pull the bedclothes o'er my eyes,
But angry shouting fills my head
Amid foul shrieks and pleading cries.

The crash of glass is all around—
From where it comes, I cannot tell;
The wail of sirens soon surround,
And join this chorus born of hell.

No longer can I listen blind;
I must know what unfolds outside!
With trepidation, I unwind
The tepid sheets in which I hide.

As I undo the shutter's latch,
A fiery glow seeps through the chinks;
I open wide perdition's hatch
And look beyond...

...My spirit sinks.

Outside, my world erupts in rage
As zealous men and boys my age
Pursue a vengeance to and fro—
Most are strangers. Some I know.

I hear them crunching down the street
On crystal carpets at their feet;
Their hate continues to amass
The shattered lives among the glass.

As men are dragged into the night,
Their screams invoke perverse delight;
Not one is spared or dares resist
The blows from rods or doubled fist.

A few who watch the cruel reprise
Reveal compassion in their eyes;
But fearing those who may deride,
They pass by on the other side.

I watch the swath of carnage spread
Beyond the living to the dead
As graves deemed worthy of disdain
Are stripped of peace in death's domain.

Behind, a raging chaos churns—
A foreign house of worship burns
Adorned with scrolls unfurled in haste
Of old commandments once embraced.

As flames ascend and minutes pass,
Their glow ignites each shard of glass—
This morbid beauty pleased my eye
Like stars unnumbered in the sky.

Then just outside my vision's reach,
A 'Voice of Reason' starts to preach;
He quotes a treatise, cold and stark,
Espousing doctrines in the dark.

His words go spinning through my head,
My conscience balks with icy dread...
Which voice will earn my trust again—
My childlike heart or tongues of men?

No longer can I bear the sight
Of fates unfolding in the night;
I flee the room in which I sleep,
Collapse in pain...

...And then I weep.

As daylight stirs my weary mind,
I hear the rattle of the door;
Could this be Vater, out all night,
Who treads the shadows on the floor?

He sighs and sinks into his chair
As if enduring tortured loss;
He pulls an armband from his coat
Emblazoned with a twisted cross.

A floorboard creaks, he spins around
And spots me in the light of day;
He trembles at my anxious gaze,
Then drops his eyes...

...And looks away.


--------------------------------------------

On the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazis unleashed a wave of orchestrated attacks against Jews in Germany and Austria. In the space of a few hours, thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed. Nearly 100 Jews were beaten to death and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps. This dark event came to be called Kristallnacht - the "Night of Broken Glass."


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This article has been read 1179 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 05/10/07
This is incredible.
valerie chambers05/10/07
An excellent reminder of how a culprit can be in our midst.also that we are responsible as onlookers.also that there are times when we are lost as to what to do. What can I say?This piece covers it all. It made this reader feel as though I were there. Awesome!
Linda Germain 05/11/07
I'm still feeling very tender in regard to this subject, since my own submission came from several days of research and discussion on the same topic. It made my heart ache. This was so beautifully done!
Loren T. Lowery05/11/07
Every time I hear stories of Crystal Night, it give me chills - you have re-told this in such a beautiful, reverant way. Thank-you.
Myrna Noyes05/11/07
Disturbing, thought-provoking, frightening! This piece is magnificently written and in a poignant way tells the story of that dreadful, tragic night. May we never forget the lessons of history! Excellent job!
Cassie Memmer05/11/07
Excellent. Horrible. Loved the POV and the father's reaction on realizing his son knew. As usual you've done a beautiful, wonderful job of writing, and though painful, it's a story that must continue to be told. Many would like to deny it happened. Thanks for writing on it. There is surely a place in literature for this piece.
Joanne Sher 05/12/07
You have done an AMAZING job of portraying this terrible, terrible time. The images will haunt me for a long time. Excellent.
Betty Castleberry05/12/07
A stunning reminder of man's inhumanity to man. I really have compassion for the little boy as well. How horrible for him to see his father this way. Excellent.
Kaylee Blake 05/14/07
WOWSERS! I'm not normally persuaded to read long poetry entries, but this simply grasped my attention and wouldn't let go!! To see that horrible night through a child's eyes...incredible. Incredible, incredible, incredible...
Jan Ackerson 05/14/07
Oh, my. I literally gulped when I realized that the boy's father was a perpetrator, not a victim. Extremly powerful, and beautifully written.
Patty Wysong05/14/07
What a view of that horrible night. The confussion of the child when he heard the familiar voice...the father's looking away at the end...there were more than Jewish families and lives destroyed that night. Such a vivid picture--wow.
terri tiffany05/14/07
Wonderful! You kept me reading all the way through - absolutely loved your descriptive words.:)
Jacquelyn Horne05/15/07
So poignant! Great poem.
Dara Sorensen05/16/07
Amazing! Your poetry should be taught as a literary masterpiece--it's truly hard to find poetry as poignant as this!
Helen Paynter05/17/07
Magnificent, Kenn. Congratuations.
Benjamin Graber05/18/07
There is absolutely no doubt that you are an excellent poet, Kenn! Excellent job!
Linda Watson Owen08/23/10
Kenn, this is beyond remarkable in every way!
It has given me shivers too. Your skill is astounding!