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Clouds (of Breath) Rising from Dachau

            In the early days of January,
(When the air is saturated with our hopes and new beginnings.)
(When our lives appear to be vectors moving only forward from the present.)
            a solitary visitor
            stood outside the gates of
            Dachau in the cold.
(The same type of cold that freezes the breath in our lungs.)
(The same type of cold that is both literal and figurative.)
            He pondered the cast iron
            curse that once greeted thousands,
            "Arbeit macht frei,"
            and its mockingly
            perfect symmetry.
(The type of symmetry that echoes in our ears and makes us lose our balance.)
(The type of symmetry that despite all of our efforts can not be undone.)
            The lie those words tell
            is not nearly as false
            when read from the outside.
            He took a step inside the camp
            and exhaled forcefully.
            He watched that cloud of
            breath spiral and rise.
(Rising like our eyebrows when we're holding back necessary tears.)
(Rising like smoke and ash from an inferno fueled by our hate.)
            He just needed to prove
            that he could indeed
            breathe within these walls.
            He then made his unnoticed exit
            amidst the silence.
(Like the silence our ears feel obliged to fill with the appropriate screams.)
(Like the silence that carries a peculiar rhythm of absent gun shots.)
            He stepped onto a bus to
            take him somewhere that wasn't here.
            Someone said, "Grüß Gott," half-heartedly.
(A half-heartedness that could make our pulses finally give in.)
(A half-heartedness, the blood of which stains all of our lives.)
            He wondered whether God has even half a heart.

Dachau (pronounced: "Dock-how") is a former concentration camp not far from Munich, Germany.  

Line 11: "Arbeit macht frei" (pronounced sort of like... "Are-bite mached fry") This is the "slogan" you might say of many of the former concentration camps (with a few exceptions using different phrases).  It is usually posted at the entrance.  In English it means "Work makes (you) free"  

Line 34: "Grüß Gott" (pronounced sort of like... "Grews Got") is a common, more formal, greeting in Bavaria and Austria.  I can't really translate it well but you might say "Greet God" or maybe even "Greetings from God."  

21 Jan 06

Rated 8.2 (7.3) by 8 users.
Active (8): 8, 10, 10, 10, 10
Inactive (7): 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 10, 10

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mm.  I've been to Dachau, too.  So somber, so awful.  I feel like you very accurately captured the mood.  Well-written.
 — jerotich

 — gingerdave

Line 11 saved my life!!
Mature writing, you must be like a real poet. (9)
 — unknown

Thank you all.
 — Resonanz

not bad!!!
 — unknown

 — Resonanz

i dont get it
 — unknown

I could try to explain it if you'd like.
 — Resonanz

This poem is so good, it inspired me to log in just to comment on it.

That being said, let one of my sodomised critiques begin.

L2-3: Make all your parentheticals match. Though this makes a fragment, you wrote other fragments as sentences. Capitalise and period on these for flow.
L4: Get rid of your comma.
L16-18: The wording is choppy. Make it flow, and DEFINITELY don't start it with "That lie seen".
L37: The reason I'm giving this poem a 9.

 — teo_omega11

Sombre, heavy-hearted, necessary.
 — Isabelle5

Ok so I fixed some issues thanks to the suggestions of teo.  Thanks everyone for the comments.
 — Resonanz

if you use code [b] [/b] using  you don't need to use a . to create an opening indent
 — unknown

Ahh thank you, that helped me get rid of that damn period.
 — Resonanz

Ah, much better. You may note my rating change, as well as it now being add to my favourites.

Thank you, Resonanz, for this work of art.

 — teo_omega11

Oh, I missed L7. It should be 'breath', since it's a noun.
 — teo_omega11

Oops, thanks for catching that teo
 — Resonanz

It's okay.
 — unknown

whats w/ the german?  this is an english-only zone.
 — unknown

not good. there is so much strong literature on the subject, written by first-hand witnessess. Too many footnotes. Your brackets have no justification. I'm not sure, but I believe Arbeit Macht Frei was at the entrance of Auschwitz, not Dachau. I will research, and you should too. Well, little one, a visitor gets all nauseated. Weak perspective. My dad was a child survivor, like Roman Polanski, like  Jerzy Kosinski. And there random sentences from his mouth on this subject blows your polite, civilized poem to hell.
 — unknown

apologies. It was also a slogan at Dachau and others. But I stand by all the other stuff I wrote. This is a sentimental and self-indulgent poem. I may do one of my own on the subject. My father's words are tattoed in my skull. I'll do it as an unknown, and I'll show you what it was like for an 11-year-old boy who delivered messages, sucked cock and traded black market luxuries such as bread crusts and turnips to make it from day to day.
 — unknown

To the ignorant, self-righteous unknown above:

I am typically incredibly polite even to those who do not deserve it simply because they leave their comments and I appreciate it (somewhat), you however have not earned politeness.  

First of all, I should research the subject?  So living in the proximity of Dachau itself, and having been there multiple times is not enough to write a simple piece on it?  I think you should research before you go making idiotic claims, trying to hold yourself up as some authority on this subject when it's quite apparent you've never even been to the camp.  Maybe you should fly to Munich take the U-Bahn to Dachau and check out the sign for yourself.  

"A visior gets all nauseated"  How the fuck would you know?  Like I've said, you've never been there and it's obvious.

Secondly I make no attempt to sound as though this is written in the perspective of a first person survivor, nor do I even set it in the time of the camp's activity.  This is about Dachau seen entirely from contemporary eyes that never witnessed what happened, but can only imagine.  It's about being at the camp as it stands now, not about as it once was.  Thus phrases like "absent gun shots."  It's about watching a man, who one can only speculate was once a survivor, walk forlornly into the camp and take a breath of freedom.  

How is this at all self-indulgent?  Do you even know what self-indulgent means?  Maybe while you're busy looking up things on the internet about that which you claim to know you could check out dictionary.com for a definition of the words you're misusing.  

Take your self-righteous bullshit eleswhere you ignorant little fuck and don't lecture me on the atrocities that took place there.  I have never, and will never, claim to be able to fathom them, and you certainly shouldn't either.

Oh and as far as your attempted critique on my piece.  HA, brackets have no justification?  I'd like to point out the fact that they are parethesis and also that you have no idea what you're talking about.  Too many footnotes!?  What the hell kind of stupid ass comment is that?  I could leave the footnotes out it doesn't affect the content of the poem, it's simply for your information.  Clearly you could have benefited from reading them.
 — Resonanz

pedantic, pretentious, pompous, pubescent  parantheses ( plural form) and so civilized
 — unknown

What no clever comeback trying to show off your infinite wisdom on this subject?  You're honestly just going to slur together a bunch of words that could be better applied to your original post?  

You've effectively basically insulted the plight of every person that went through those camps by claiming to fully understand it.

"I'll show you what it was like for an 11-year-old boy who delivered messages, sucked cock and traded black market luxuries such as bread crusts and turnips to make it from day to day."

No you won't, because you were never there, end of story.  Quit pretending, and don't waste my time or litter my poem with your idiotic comments anymore.
 — Resonanz

this is really powerful.

l35 there shouldn't be a comma, grammatically speaking.

still that doesn't change the fact that i am giving you a 10. this is amazing.
 — missmurder

dein Gedicht gefällt mir sehr. Ich war vor einigen Wochen selbst in der Gedenkstätte Dachau. Es hat mich sehr geprägt und natürlich auch zum schreiben inspiriert.
Die Art, in der du die Stimmung eines Besuchers festhälst hat mich sehr beeindruckt. Die Bemerkungen in den Klammern gefallen mir am meisten, da sie dem Gedicht eine Persönliche Note verleihen, einen ehrlichen Ton.
hervorragende Arbeit.
 — sparrow

this is great :)
 — mindsI

missmurder:  You're correct and I changed it.  Thank you so very much for your comment.

sparrow: Vielen Dank, es freut mich, dass mein Gedicht dir gefallen hat.  Ich hab nie erwartet, Deutsch hier zu sehen.  Wo genau kommst du her?  Aus Deutschland oder?  

Vielen, vielen Dank.

minds: Thank you as well.
 — Resonanz

I think the poem is wonderful - and I think the argument sparked by the unknown who began his comment with "not good. there is so much strong literature on the subject, written by first-hand " was totally unnecessary.  It is wonderful, admirable, and preferable that all of mankind continue to wonder and imagine what that horrible chapter of history was like.  Expressing it in poetry is a marvelous way to share your feelings.  

Why is it necessary to only read literature written first-hand?  Once the people who experienced  the Hitler regime have passed away - what then? do we forget about that time.  We remember because we talk and involve ourselves.

Every person on earth can find a connection in their families within 6 generations to any other person on earth.  We are all truly brohers and sisters and every person who died in the death camps (not only jews) but also Hitler is a part of our heritage.  We must always remember.  
 — unknown

nicht aus Deutschland:-)
und bitte
 — sparrow

Hey, not bad. This is a good poem to read
 — unknown

Ooh, what a nice random poem to see again!

I still love it as much as I always have, a favourite among my favourites.

 — teo_omega11

stupid poem
 — unknown