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Walter Weinschenk

Long Gone





Jackboots through a Berlin street:

The earth itself shook with fear;

My father lived but the others died;

The man survived through wit and luck.


I wasn’t there to hear that thunder

And yet I hear it constantly

Through ancient ears

Within my mind;

That horror took place

Before I was born

But resounds

Within my consciousness;

A cruel cadence:

The pitiless rhythm

Of a prior age

That reverberates today

Through me;

It shatters my inner peace,

The shards of which sink

To the depths

Of an unhappy harbor:

Acerbic currents;

Debilitating guilt

Permeates those waters;

A legacy from my father:

A survivor’s burden

For the sin of living,

An internal confliction

That I inherited;

An unwitting gift

From a gentle man

Who watched men march

And heard the crash

Of heavy boots

Through Berlin streets;

He wore a yellow star back then

And now he is long gone.





I can’t leave the house

Even though,

Beyond the door,

The peace of hollyhock

And willow trees prevail;

I swore to myself

That I’d try, at least,

To take a walk

But that promise is one

I’ve broken before

And will break again;

My father’s guilt

Is alive in me.


The sun peers down,

Searches for me

Like a chaperon

To take me by the arm

And usher me along

A winding path

Through green fields,

Remind me again

Of the panoply of life,

An irrepressible array;

I can share in it

If I leave the house,

Wander out,

Breathe the air

And walk among the living.


But don’t ask me now

To do today

What I haven’t done before;

It is late and today

Is simply not the day

To renounce a legacy;

I am not ready

To return a bequest

Left to me

By a sorrowful donor,

Sorely missed;

He wore a yellow star back then

And now he is long gone.

The World Will Be Gone



I will consume the wind,

I will swallow the sun,

I will devour the earth

And the world will be gone.


Stones of death

Litter the field

And I’ve tripped over them

Too many times;

I’m sick of the sight

Of that dark border,

Infinite grey:

Funeral bunting

Along the horizon.


Fear and anguish,

Heartache and loss,

Destroy the lives

Of living souls

Which is why

I will consume the world:

The sun and earth,

The winding winds,

The rock and dust

That flow through space

And all the space

In the universe;

I will harbor the world                

Within myself

And wait for as long

As time in the world

For the world in me

To be reborn.


Meya Dying





Meya sleeping;

We console

Or so we try;

We talked some

And then some more.


She so weak;

I hid my tears

Behind my eyes

But some came out,

Drops that spill

Like warm wet wine,

Eyelashes moist,

Dipped and dripping,


Everyone talking,

All day long,

But this is all

We knew to do:

We were doing

All we could

To comfort Meya

In her dying.


Meya fading,

Meya dying

And all the while

We talk and talk

To comfort her;

Some of us

With wordy phrases,

That we couldn’t help:


That we had heard

While growing up

In the course

Of someone else’s dying,

Words that hardly

Meant a thing;

No, we couldn’t help

But speak those words,

From time to time,

As if they were our own,

A worthless currency

Tendered at the end

Of someone’s life.


I tried my best

Not to miss the point,

To give her words

That meant something,

Speak to the fact

Of her suffering;

I tried to be

Something more

Than a tired body

In a hospital chair;

I hope I was real,

I so hope I was real.


Fever cheeks,

Lips pale,

Her name in plastic

Around her wrist;

Rolling around

In her hospital bed,


Too weak to live,

Draped in a silence

That she half-enjoyed;


Like a dying deer

Who leans against

A stolid tree,

Inhales traces

Of oblivion’s

Inert air.




I passed

Through icy fields,

Frozen trees

Turned crystalline,

Branches bright,

Diamond sleeved

And bent beneath

The frozen weight

And, suddenly,

I stopped;

I saw a deer

In front of me,

Close enough to touch;

Matted wool,

Muddy hooves,

Lifeless in a heap;

Body propped

Against a tree,                                                    

Gleaming lattice,

Icy branches,

Crystal nimbus

At the top.


I saw a deer

In front of me,

But yesterday

It was alive:

A living soul

In mortal coat

That slept

And dreamed

And ran

And died

And when it died

It was released

And now

It floats,

It flies,

Like the soul

Of every deer

That ever lived;

It trips and tumbles

Beyond cold fields,

Past frozen trees,

Silver hills

And the sky itself;

It runs as if alive,

Through endless trails

In a silent world,

Where time runs cold

And peace prevails.

About Walter Weinschenk

Walter Weinschenk is an attorney, writer and musician. Until a few years ago, he wrote short stories exclusively but now divides his time equally between poetry and prose. Walter's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of literary publications including Lunch Ticket, The Carolina Quarterly, The Worcester Review, Sand Hills Literary Magazine, Meniscus Literary Journal, Waxing and Waning and others. He is the author of "The Death of Weinberg: Poems and Stories" (Kelsay Books, 2023). More of Walter's work can be found at

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