Two poems by Susan Jordan

Kristallnacht

It happened a long time ago. I watched it on television in shades of grey. It started with smashing windows, the glass jagged over black space inside. On some of the windows you could see ‘Jude’ in ugly writing. Men in uniform were marching down the street: young men with short, short haircuts and bland faces looking straight forward. Then you saw the people in the street running to get away. Some of them seemed pleased, but then there were the other ones with stars pinned to their clothes. They looked frightened when the fires started. Old people spoke who had been children then. The children didn’t understand what was happening, but they understood later. An old man opened a box and took out the yellow star he’d kept for seventy years.

..

Sentience

It hurts when the prod shocks through your skin
when cages cripple all your limbs
when they whip you to make you stagger
in what they call a dance.

It hurts when they pour poison into you
when they take away your child
when they force food down your throat
so you’ll be good to eat.

It hurts when they crowd you in trucks
when they drive you towards fear
when, shocked but not stunned,
you feel the knife’s first rip.

It hurts when they don’t hear
you telling them it hurts.

KKK by Susan Jordan

I’d seen them before, the tall pointed hoods

with slits for the eyes, the phalanxes marching –

but that was Spain, all colour and ceremony,

flower-decked Madonnas shuffled along

on huge wooden platforms, the funereal drumbeat,

Christ burdened by the weight of his cross.

 

This was elsewhere. White-robed, white-hooded,

they triumphed in the street at being given back

the hate they’d had to mask. Behind them I saw

the fiery cross,  the noose tied to a tree, the dragging

feet, the terrified faces. I saw the righteousness

that knew nothing beyond white and black.