SIEG HEIL/Their Shoes, a poem by Howard Debs, featured on Life As Activism

SIEG HEIL/Their Shoes
by Howard Debs
featured on Life As Activism

One wonders if these people are people at all
—from keynote speech of Richard B. Spencer, November 19, 2016, NPI Conference, Ronald Reagan Federal Building, Washington, D.C.

The shoes are made of iron
presumably to preserve the
symbolic footwear, but they are
attached along the Danube’s
stone embankment, so
perhaps the sculptor intended
that the splashing water
would with time
have its own effect;
sixty pair, men’s women’s
children’s. Starting In 1944
the fascist Arrow Cross Party
militiamen murdered Jews and
others along the river bank, the
shoes were considered of value, the
shoes alone, the victims in their panic
hastily were demanded to remove them
as shots rang out and writhing bodies
spilling blood flooded the water the dead
and dying to be carried by the current downstream;
the victims often knew their killers,
no blindfolds were used to mitigate
the circumstances, this was slaughter
at the water’s edge. Presented now oxidizing
“remains”—oxfords maybe for wearing
by a businessman on his way
to the office, a woman’s wedges to be donned
for shopping, a child’s saddle shoes to come
home from school.

Howard Richard Debs received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age nineteen. After fifty years in communications, and an Educational Press Association of America Distinguished Achievement Award, he resumed his creative pursuits. Finalist and recipient 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his work appears internationally in numerous publications recently in Yellow Chair Review, Silver Birch Press, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Dime Show Review, the Clear Poetry 2015 Anthology, his essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness” in On Being—On The Blog, and his photography in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge’ artist and guest editor; his full length work Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words, Scarlet Leaf Publishing, is forthcoming in early 2017.


Image credit: “Shoes on the Danube Bank” by Nikodem Nijaki, CC BY-SA 3.0 on Wikipedia



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