Tag Archives: conscience

The Screaming Mound

Do not speak falsely. 

Brutal honesty: 
far better a crime 

than your silence 
denies. 

Your tongue 
presses 

the bottom of your mouth. 

Words wait. 

Tongues are cut out. 

Tongues rise high— 
lash the ground. 

Place your tongue atop 
the screaming mound.

About the poem:

“The Screaming Mound” contains some of the most jarring imagery I’ve ever employed in a lyrical context. The issue at the poem’s core  —  complicity in atrocity through silence — demanded a strident metaphor.

But sadly, I no longer remember what prompted the poem.

I think this is because the poem itself chooses a kind of silence and complicity. By operating exclusively through metaphor — however striking — without so much as an epigraph to clarify the poem’s real-world context and origin, the pain of the particular is silenced.

So, too, is memory.

Walking On Faces

The dim light 

     hangs. 

I punctuate 
silence. 

The dark corner 

     calls. 

I choose 
a careful path. 

The floor is populated: 

     metal faces cry, 

grimace, countenance 
the violence of my gait, 

clanking 
     protests; 
     warnings; 
     death-cries. 

I enter 

     the heart. 

The ceiling is low 
at my head. 

Brutal steps 

     ring sharp 

in my ears. 

Detachment dies in 
     protests; 
     warnings; 
     death-cries. 

I choose 

     a path of return, 

for which I am. 
I remember 

     the dead 

only through force, 
clanks and cries. 

What is my alibi? 
What is my alibi?

About the poem:

“Walking On Faces” was used as lyrics on track #5 of Before the Turn, part of my Cindervoice musical project.

The poem was spurred by Menashe Kadishman’s “Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves)” installation at the Jüdisches Museum Berlin (Jewish Museum, Berlin). The installation is an immersive experience that requires the visitor to walk on metal faces strewn about floor. The sound of your walking cuts deepest; you can get a taste of the experience here.

It took me a long time to process my emotions after experiencing “Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves).” Feelings of sympathy for the lost and complicity in their horror entangle in the act of walking on faces one wishes to honor, their clanks filling the air. The poem “Walking On Faces” was how I made sense of the experience.

Here’s how it translated into music: