Aleksandras Bosas: Nine Poems


P O E T R Y

Aleksandras Bosas

Aleksandras Bosas

Editor’s note: These nine Lithuanian poems by Aleksandras Bosas (1951—2014) were chosen by Milan Chersonski, translated by Ieva Pukelytė-Mikutienė and edited by Stanley H. Barkan, director of Cross-Cultural Communications Press. Sincerest thanks to them all.

During his last days, Aleksandras Bosas, in addition to writing poems protesting the falsification of the Holocaust in his native land, participated in one demonstration in Ukmergė against a city-square monument that honors a local Holocaust perpetrator as “national hero” and another in Kaunas protesting the glorification of the 1941 “Lithuanian Activist Front” murderers of Jewish civilians across the land.

In his final years, Bosas was harassed by police and prosecutors for the stance he took on Holocaust history (see some of the coverage by Evaldas Balčiūnas). He was posthumously awarded one of Defending History’s seven Prophet Amos Awards for Human Rights in Lithuania for 2014-2015. These nine poems are from his final book of poetry, a collection of Holocaust-themed poems that appeared in Kaunas in 2014.

  • Curious List

  • I can’t believe my eyes, are they seeing mist?
  • The Jews have issued on the net a curious list.
  • Here are Noreika, Ramanauskas, Baltūsis, Lukša . . .
  • Our freedom heralds. The greatest of the nation.
  • Under their names the loathsome slander written:
  • “They are terrible killers, true sadists.”
  • Nation chiefs, punish slanderers, do you lack determination—
  • Why are you silent? Or maybe you agree with “defamation”? . . .
  • Lists of the Holocaust perpetrators in Lithuania are published in Israel, Lithuania and many countries around the world on websites. Lists in our country are still being reviewed by historians but they are unlikely ever to be published. [Editor’s note: On the ‘List’ scandal see 2011 report; more on Noreika, RamanauskasBaltūsis, Lukša.]
  • Strange Question

  • This question will look
  • strange, to some terrible:
  • Did teachers fire guns
  • at women, children?
  • Better do not ask,
  • do not grieve or despair,
  • just sit down at the computer
  • and read the “Holocaust.”
  • In 1941–1944 teachers participated in the Holocaust, enough teachers for one complete modern high school, including a principal and a number of senior faculty members.
  • He Called the Nation

  • “From dusk and twilight you go forth, light the fire in the hearts anew” . . .
  • Brazdžionis begs the Nation, when the innocent suffocate in pits.
  • “This hot blood of revenge will cast a curse on your children’s children” . . .
  • O herald of the Nation, you warned them then openly and timely.
  • Yet heeded not your voice the ghosts of twilight and dusk.
  • And “lit” us with such a terrible fire that the curse already falls on children.
  • Famous Lithuanian poet Bernardas Brazdžionis’s (1907–2002) poem “I Call the Nation,” was published in Kaunas on 15 September 1941. It unequivocally warned compatriots on the Holocaust and its consequences.

 

  • At the Ninth Fort
  • On the Ninth Fort wintry trail I go
  • In place of executions I stand still
  • Fifty thousand people under my feet . . .
  • I do not want to write anything more
  • I know, without even listening to the Creator—
  • they chose the very best . . .
  • They Chose the Best

  • On their Shoah or Holocaust, Humanity still shudders.
  • Executioners are gone, their victims resting.
  • Maybe apologized, reconciled nations
  • Sadistic spirits gone to dust. Their victims have regained bodies.
  • We will not repeat the old truth—their lives are in the soul within us.
  • “Honorable” Thanks

  • For freedom with dignity
  • Jews fought at the front.
  • Along with the independence of the nation
  • We gave them the Holocaust.
  • Among the ten thousand volunteers who fought in Lithuania’s war of independence, there were more than five hundred Jews. Twenty-three of them were awarded the Cross of Vytis medal.
  • Strange Meeting

  • To Tuskulėnai with a friend
  • We arrived to honor the heroes
  • Unfortunately, here we met
  • only half of the people holy to us
  • and half as much—killers . . .
  • In Vilnius, local Holocaust perpetrators  lie together with the innocent in the Tuskulėnai Peace Park.
  • In Lietūkis Garage Court

  • Basketball court used for executions.
  • Its cover recalls blood-red.
  • Painful knowing stings me in the heart,
  • Corner here . . . Unfortunately, the same . . .
  • Darius—Girėnas gymnasium yard—
  • sad memories in Lietūkis Garage . . .
  • Here the human blood ran in rivers—
  • Sadists shattered heads with crowbars . . .
  • Our women do not scream anymore
  • Do not hold babies over their heads.
  • Photos not made anymore by the Wehrmacht,
  • But, to this day, a square makes me uncomfortable . . .
  • To Mom and Her Desk-mate

  • Zosele, do you remember Esther?
  • I was your desk-mate.
  • I remember how light-hearted you were
  • Both joking, we played and grew.
  • We dreamed of attending gymnasium
  • Both diligent schoolgirls.
  • We would soon have been fourteen.
  • Boys started to be of our interest a little.
  • What was brought on us on the morrow, Zosele,
  • Schnapps-soaked mountain men.
  • Our mothers were crying all the way.
  • We felt what lingers in the air . . .
  • You cannot understand such suffering
  • That we experienced in the woods.
  • I feel bitter hatred—
  • they kicked my brother in the chest.
  • I saw him spread his arms in the air,
  • Pleading—Please, sir, do not shoot . . .
  • And still I hear for a few moments,
  • as my Mommy screamed.
  • Zosele, we again are so near,
  • like sitting behind the desk.
  • You are on the hill, I’m in the pinewood.
  • As though we’re again holding hands.
  • The author’s mother Sofia Bosienė-Švelnytė (1927–2007), a pedagogue, studied in Sudargas district elementary school before the war. She studied together with Jewish children. She is buried in the Sudargas cemetery. Her  classmates who were shot rest in the pinewood outside the village. 

  • Published in Defending History, 29 January 2015. URL: http://defendinghistory.com/aleksandras-bosas-nine-poems. Home page.

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