Thomas Ország-Land




In memoriam Kurt Waldheim*



Small world, what, Excellency? We shall not shake hands.

I do not care how you manage to live with the murder of children

among the conquered women and spoilt vineyards and olivegroves

back in the Balkans, back in your youth: that is your affair.

But what you have done, to me and my world, that’s mine.



At last, our final meeting. You were an obedient officer

ordered to make a corpse of me,  perforce a small one.

I have survived the mayhem to make a poem of you.

I am more generous than you and far more consistent.

Old soldiers like you in public life can still be of use.



Admit the past for the sake of the future, and go in peace

at the mercy of your smouldering, sordid, meandering memories.

Or dare to persist in denying the truth and the value of life,

pretend that nothing occurred to stir your attention,

and I promise you will never escape the stench of corpses:



for I will record your name as well as the crimes

from which you say you averted your indifferent eyes,

in tales of horror to be recounted throughout the ages

till the end of the march of innocent future generations

to weigh up anew, again and again, and recoil from your life.



Thomas Ország-Land a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent. His books include eight collections of verse in many editions.  The Survivors: Holocaust Poetry for Our Time, will be published by Smokestack in 2014.

*Kurt Waldheim, (1918-2007), former president of Austria, secretary-general of the United Nations  and  intelligence officer of Hitler’s Wehrmacht, who died peacefully days after publicly repenting his silence over the atrocities.


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