Sunday Apr 14

Bancroft Poetry Christian Bancroft received his PhD from the University of Houston and is the recipient of a Michener Fellowship. A semifinalist for the 2018 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award and the 2017 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, he is the author of Now Sing: Reflections on Modernism and Queering Translation (under contract, Routledge) and the co-editor of the 2018 Unsung Masters Series volume, Adelaide Crapsey: The Life and Work of an American Master. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, The Missouri Review, jubilat, Gulf Coast, and Asymptote, among others.

Note: The following poems are from a longer manuscript, A Ghost Has No Fantasies, and are engaged with bringing to light and the reframing of the persecution of gay men and lesbians during the Holocaust. These poems are found texts, taken from memoirs, first-hand accounts, and archival documents that catalogue the persecution of queer men and women during the Holocaust.

Passion of the Twentieth Century
Richard Grüne

I kept myself alive by drawing from
evening until morning.
I draw those images at the request of my
former camp comrades, to close things, to demystify them.
Death there was a creak from a bed post at night,
beads of brow sweat: there was nothing compelling about it.
Drawing was a beyond for me, like some kind of polestar,
but one I couldn’t see, let alone where it would lead me.
I wasn’t even sure
what was happening at that particular moment,           
except the drawing into which I dove. Even when I disappeared
into the pollution
of camp routines, I was still drawing.
I drew das Wesen out from what I knew of the shadows
of civilization. Not necessarily what happened there.
But there itself. Its Leidenschaft. Leidenschaft. Leiden-

Keep Up
Gad Beck

When the bombs were falling,
we made love on the train.

Our cart vacant of others, and,
   that night, vacant of scenes of the Panke
through the gardens of Schönhausen.

Distant explosions magnified
and breaking light
                       into shards on our bodies
reflected through the raindrops
on the train windows.

He put his mouth on me,
    and my nerves, thrilled to a tingle,
forced me to recognize my body.
                                 And its pleasure.
You have to see this romantically.
When bombs fall
and buildings explode nearby,

                                                             you look to others
                                                                                             for closeness.
You forget the bombs,
the war,
the stalled train.
You are just close to others.

You didn’t get that?
Oh darling, you are slow.

Letter from Else

After my shift im Cafe                        slight aroma
of the Havel
      I remember you napping on the couch,
noise from the streets: Nazi police
Alter Markt.
a beauty          among             the
      savaged scene:                                         your eyes relaxed in
their respective sockets,                                                                                 
from the SS
      remember your mouth,                          ,                     body, stretched
out,           . Gh                                   o your face:
as though         enlightenment swam through you,
meine faltige-Rose.
Do you remember                    in Berlin, at the Top keller?
You pointed                                        t sign that read,
“Wir                  NeueGeist.         es smit Schamlosigkeit.”
           kissed me. felt your                                   lips take
shape into   smile as you withdrew them from   .

ich     dankbar, verschuldet that wemet,
were able to       ,                     was possible, among           dawns
      , we have been and are completely,                        this once,
dizzied by        fortunate time together, before
vanishes like a fish released back into the sea.

    A Hot Fraternity in the Brown House
                        Ernst Röhm

     I make no secret                                                              of my inclinations

      Of course I fight                                                              against moral laws,

      above all P175.                                                               Is that not clear?

      Meine Homosexualitat                                                    is of a highter culture.

      Ich bin sogar

      stolz darauf                                                                     would march off

      I only really                                                                     Discovered this in 1914.

      Though I can                                                                  Remember earlier an array

      of same-sex feelings                                                      and acts during my childhood

      I’ve been with                                                                 woman,

      without any                                                                     particular pleasure.

     I would be.                                                                       in the best order

      if I was not                                                                      missing an object of life.

      I even took                                                                      a companion with me

      to Bolivia                                                                         a 19-year old Munich artist.

      I’m very close                                                                 with him, and him with me…

      he is quite                                                                       the cute little thing.

      In the streets                                                                   of La Paz, none of the local

      youths shy away                                                             from physical affection

      to the point                                                                      you would think everyone

      in the street                                                                     is Schwul! Oh, but I am

      so attracted                                                                     to hot-blooded, fresh

      lieutenants.                                                                     They would surely please you

      enshrined                                                                        in their blond youth,

      as would the                                                                   Turkish baths in Berlin:

      the summit                                                                     of all human happiness

      Our love, heroic                                                             Nothing can happen to me.

      If I am touched,                                                              hundreds of thousands        

      for me

      Ich warte dringed                                                           auf Antwort.              

      Mit Kameradschaftlichen                                               handschlag, Irh…