Massacre On Demand

So last week I read my grandma’s memoir.
It’s been years since she’s passed
and eras since I’ve heard her talk about the Holocaust.

You see us children of genocide
never quite visit our family trees.
Massacre coats our branches
browning memory into history
like leaves exhaling chlorophyll.

Before you know it everything is crumbled
in a pile beneath stained converse.

At 19 I’m literate enough to read my DNA
and it feels the picture book beasts I shoved under my bed
burrowed into this tattered oak of ancestry.

I learn to count people reduced to numbers,
branches I never knew were chopped down.
Nazis came to her village
clogged every Jew into the temple
and set it on fire
set it to charring flesh
set it to the dress rehearsal of broken bloodlines

when they played jenga with her neighbors corpses
when swastika hooked smiles collided with her mother’s begs
when they compressed children into the cattle car
the other girls didn’t wait to become livestock.
they told her gas chambers serve death cold
they told her shave your skin
they told her slice your wrists before the slaughter

I come from lambs who painted their own doorframes crimson
to avoid meeting the angel of death.

My grandmother coated her gold necklace in their blood 
and burrowed in her vagina
hoping Mengele would mistake her last bargaining chip
for her final traces of womanhood.
She sold it in starvation and it paid for the next 60 years of her life.

I didn’t write this poem about the Holocaust.
I could write a thousand poems about the Holocaust
but I would just be a newborn describing the agony of my mother’s labor.
You see more people would be disturbed
by the mention of my grandma’s period than the genocide of her people.
It’s harder to talk about menstruation then mass murder.
They make horror movies
but tampon commercials use unidentified blue fluid.
And I don’t know if it’s because the men who are running this world
know that little about female anatomy
or it’s easier to silence girls bodies before their mouths.

We are marble chiseled to porcelain
to trimmed skin and concealed faces
to limp hands and sleeping tongues
They carve question marks into our throats.
Mold my privates into so much shame
I'm afraid to get off my knees.
Apparently my vagina only matters when it's vacant
Apparently pussy only sounds right on a frat boy's tongue
Apparently my grandma’s body is more repulsive
than starving infants
than shattered skulls
than 11 million forgotten names
dinner places and lullabies
Apparently we have redesigned genocide.
They will call me a feminazi
for wanting to be heard instead of hunted.

I read my grandma’s account because some stories can’t be said out loud.
The syllables sizzle your tongue.
Learning my history is swallowing matches,
hoping my oxygenated mouth won't catch fire.
But when yesterday is a gas chamber,
defiance is to keep breathing--
filling each exhale with words.
Don’t tell me my body isn’t fit for conversation.
Don’t censor my tampons and put game of thrones on prime time.
I’m bored of massacre on demand.
We’ve fought for 5,000 years to be human
but our women are still fighting.
So what’s more barbaric?
The people who tried to kill my grandma,
or what that kept her alive?


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