I can’t decide if it’s easy or difficult to pass judgment, so I won’t. According to family lore we are the offspring of Heinrich Heine. There are black and white photos of my sisters and I posing at the Lorelei Fountain at Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx near where I was born which prove absolutely nothing.
The story goes like this, Heinrich was madly in love with his cousin, a relationship frowned upon by the family who put an unceremonious end to it. Heinrich, the enfant terrible then fell in love with her sister also his cousin, with whom he fathered a child.
The baby was put up for adoption and this child grew to become my great great grandmother who gave birth to Leah Weishaus (great grandmother) who was murdered at Terezinstadt along with her daughter Feodora, (grandmother) who was murdered at Auschwitz along with her husband Solly Mendheim, (grandfather), and grandson Ernst Lesser, my brother in 1943.
2. The Poet Speaks
My bastards will thank me
To not bear the weight of my name.
Much good the counterfeit conversion
to my grandchildren at Auschwitz.
Wherever books are burned, they will
also in the end burn human beings.
Can my descendants prove my blood beyond rumor?
If they should care in the lands they’re scattered.
I was never a good Jew, moreso the Seder’s wicked
son questioning the rituals by which we’re bound.
The old laws of the tribe not my passion
God will forgive me, it’s his job.
Ring around the smokestacks
Pocketful of gold teeth
We all disappear.