for Ruth Klüger and Egon Schwarz

Sufficient grandeur remains
Statues and plague columns
Opera and concert halls, palaces
converted into offices or stops for
tourists tracing by-gone glory.

Once the empire, kaleidoscope of
languages and nationalities, shone
its light for the world to see. A
wondrous façade masking unease
and anxiety in coffee house and garden.

Harsh tones of a familiar language
mingled with propaganda, cacophony
assaulted the ears, then the entire person.
One son of the city fled with family
over the ocean, one daughter taken away
with hers to a camp then a death march.

Three decades later on learned I
from them more than literature: about
endurance and courage. Viennese
grace survived the madness; a
plaza now dedicated in her memory.

Around me I hear the same slightly-
modified lies, a disdain of the decent. Books
banned, religion perverted, the honorable
dishonored. Some try to step twice into
the same polluted waters. Who will hear
us as we shout into the storm, “Never again!”


Arther Turfa is a poet/writer in Lexington, SC. Member of the South Carolina Writers Association with six books of poetry, one novel, and one short story published in US and international journals. Top Ten Award 2019 Pangolin Review.