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By Julian Scutts

A dialogue and poems on recent Jewish history

The Shoemaker's Last

Born the same day in 1880,
the two didn't seem to have much else
in common,
one would have thought.

The one was baptized,
the other circumcised.
The one was the best in class,
the other came last. The one was clever and gifted,
the other was good with his hands.

The one became a schoolmaster,
the other the maker and mender of shoes.

From time to time the clever one needed new shoes
- walking shoes,
dancingshoes and smart black ones.

Shoemaker: Mazal tov! My regards to the bride. Though you're a
goy, I'll break you a glass.

Later the clever one returned to ask if he could shorten the
tongues of his mother-in-law's shoes.

Schoolmaster: Thomas will need a size larger this time.

Shoemaker: How their feet grow!

Schoolmaster: And a new pair for Heidi. They say there will be war.

Shoemaker: My brother Joe has volunteered for the front.

Schoolmaster: Could you heel and sole these?

Shoemaker: Let's hope it will be over come spring.

Schoolmaster: I need new laces.

Shoemaker: Joe says it's hell in those trenches.

Schoolmaster: Thank God it all ended before Thomas was old enough to fight.

Shoemaker: Perhaps now they'll beat their swords into plough-shares.

Schoolmaster: I doubt that, Aaron. There'll always be war.
You know, in some ways it's even worse now. How much are those?

Shoemaker: One million five-hundred thousand Reichmarks. I'll take tobacco or coffee in lieu.

Schoolmaster: It's about time they cleared the streets of those brownshirts, those ruffians!

Shoemaker: Maybe it'll be better when the employment situation improves.

Schoolmaster: It's good to know that somebody still believes in human nature, Aaron. I like those with the silver lining.

Shoemaker: You know we are closed tomorrow and Thursday. It's the Jewish New Year.

Schoolmaster: That stooge! He won't last a year. Shoemaker: These rubber stick-on soles are all the rage. Shoes lastlonger that way.

Schoolmaster: So the family has left, thank God. Aren't you going, too?

Shoemaker: Somebody's got to earn a living, and who needs an old cobbler over there?

Maybe the worst will soon be over. World opinion must carry some weight.

I'll have them ready to collect after dark.

Schoolmaster: Stay at home tonight. That death in Paris will bring the packs out.

But not seeming to hear the crescendo of hate, Aaron hammereaway on the shoe laid on his last, until he was deafened by breaking glass.

Was it so surprising they remained friends to the last?


The Law?s Delay

"Only god can judge such crimes,"

plead heartless scoffers.

The dead are silent.

Thirty-six after,

Their silence is unbroken.

The dead make bad witnesses.

They do not make themselves heard.

They are hard of hearing.

They fail to make appearances at hearings.

They do not corroborate

The evidence of living witnesses

With fading memories,

With disturbed emotions.

And henchmen are let off

Their hooked crosses.

"All human law is imperfect" ,

sigh they whose sins are grave,

too grave to count. Time heals


but the dead

are dead still.

Not to be

Is to be

Out of court.


All the Perfumes of Arabia

His sins, many thousands of them,

Lie buried in the anonymous soil.

Over his mantelpiece a proverb hangs:

"Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn."

On his shelf "Mein Kampf" is visible.

"It must never happen again,"

he is quick to reassure the fainthearted. All else is new:

His car, his house, hi political complexion,

His hairstyle, his face, everything.

Everything? No, not quite everything.

If you want a new car, you can buy one.

If you want a new house, you may get the money.

If you want a new political complexion,

You can always change your daily newspaper. If you want a new hairstyle,

You can always pay a little extra.

If you want a new a new face, it can be arranged

(or rearranged).

And the heart, the old hard heart?

Ask for a transplant.

You can always ask, but

Not for love or money

Can you change the past.

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