The Tree of Life

by William Swarts

In memoriam October 27, 2018*

Shabbat shalom.
11 limbs lopped from the Tree of Life.
—an AK-47 ax.
Shabbat shalom.

Shabbat shalom.
Sanctuary safety, sanctuary serenity
blasted to bits in a free fire zone.
Shabbat shalom.

Shabbat shalom.
Triage on the Bimah, the Ark opened,
the Torah unrolled for use as a stretcher.
Shabbat shalom.

Shabbat shalom.
A minyan and more souls mowed down.
A generation blown away, lost forever.
Shabbat shalom.

Shabbat shalom.
Holes dug, graves filled
by many handfuls of dirt.
Shabbat shalom.

Shabbat shalom.
We sit in global shiva.
What a horribly long week it is.
Shabbat shalom.

*The day when 11 worshippers at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA were shot down in cold blood.


William Swarts is the author of Harmonies Unheard, Strickland Plains and Other Poems and Treehouse of the Mind. He won First Prize in Litchfield Review’s annual Poetry Contest. His poetry has been published in many recognized literary reviews and journals. He received his B.A. in English Literature from Brown University, his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and practiced law in New York City and Paris, France. He studied with Bolligen Prize-winner David Ignatow at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA Poetry Center in New York City.

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