A Very Busy Ghost

by Dean Blehert

We mustn’t bother Hitler with details,
For Hitler is a very busy ghost.
No time to answer letters or e-mails,
So much to do — no time for tea nor toast.

No time for silly questions: Don’t ask “Why?”
Details! Details! There simply isn’t time!
Details! You ask, “Why must so many die?”
The dead make mountains, and we climb, we climb.

Sarcastic, jovial, scathing, soft — by turns
(Though some would call it senile muttering),
One word is cold as ice; the next one burns
(Though in eye-pits, a weak flame guttering).

So many fools to knock some sense into,
So many traitors to be torn to shreds,
So many mockers — every one a Jew! –
So many cowards hiding in their beds,

So many Jews yet live, so little time….
Perhaps HE’LL be a Jew — Oh, THAT would  show ‘em,
Those German traitors worming through their slime!
I’ll be a Jew and skewer them with a poem.

(We mustn’t bother Hitler with details—
He’s such a busy ghost! Our questions flicker
About and through him, clouds of gnats.) He pales,
Then flashes — all  charade: He can’t get sicker.

That’s not a bad idea—be a Jew!
(Within him multitudes roar their support.)
It was the Jews who won, they always do…
Besides, their suffering—ah, noble sport—

Could almost match his own, though less heroic,
For none have been so wretchedly betrayed
(“BETRAYED! BETRAYED! BETRAYED!” howl hordes, echoic)
As I by those I loved. Thus I’m repaid

For all my struggles, my gut-wrenching WILL!
(I’ve had these thoughts before. They’re on a wheel
That’s creaking in my head. No “shush,” no pill
Can stop its turning. I’ve no need to feel

These torments, for I’ve got them memorized,
As, once, I knew just when to shout, just when
To thrust a fist to Heaven, when, disguised
As merely human, to seem humble; then

Spewed sudden lightning like a pagan god,
My will become a blue electric arc—
Now round and round, my words, whipped oxen, plod.
BZZZT! BZZZT! — loose-wired, hectically I spark.

It wasn’t easy setting men aflame,
So many millions dancing in my fire.
I was the torch that blazoned forth their shame:
For THEM I self-combusted. Yet they’d tire

Of simple discipline, blood, honor, passion.
They slumped. I goaded, pouted, stormed and spit!
They stirred, then flickered out. How could I ration
My flame to feed such heaps of sodden shit?

I lie: To set them blazing was too easy,
But then to feed their fire, year by year…
My voice began to crack, my breath grew wheezy.
Like my lost troops in Stalingrad, whose fear

Of freezing trumped fear of dishonor, who
First burned their oil and coal and wood, then burned
the trees, their chairs, gunpowder, lodgings, too —
So I consumed my love, my hate, then turned

My will-to-burn into a sickly flame,
Then scorched them with incendiary flesh
Till naught of me could burn them but my name.
Strong words like “Traitors!” find no embers fresh

Enough to blow upon. Ash shifts on a grate.
I say, “my love, my hate,” but who can tell,
When all is simply fuel, what’s love? What’s hate?
I say “my will,” but in this murky hell

Will shrinks to fate as sinew peels from bone.
It’s something to become the fate of nations,
And yet it’s less than human. I’m a stone
God flung—to be turned up by excavations—

A pebble now—is this how I atone?
How is it I’m filled with a screaming crowd
When I’m alone! Alone! Alone…alone
As any stone? This silence is so loud!

I’m destiny. I’m blind. My memory fails.
I’m stone, an inward hubbub of criss-crossed
chaotic thoughts. Those millions dead — details.
Let me be stone, and not some busy ghost.