By Lawrence Matsuda
For Donald’s Daughter, Ivanka Trump
Ivanka, in a different time and place,
you and your children are squeezed into
cattle cars destined for Nazi death camps.
Stars pinned to your coats
and numbers tattooed on your arm.
Religion is your crime, something like
the 120,000 Japanese Americans whose race
incarcerates them during World War II.
If you dodge head shaving,
and starvation, maybe a country
would welcome you.
Angel of death is difficult to slip,
unfortunates are turned away,
chased by verbal brickbats and pitchforks.
You smell freedom’s scent
but only glimpse porthole views
of Lady Liberty’s tantalizing torch.
Doors slam and hands
of kindness withdraw.
You are not among privileged
Today, as a 1% American demographic,
you are safe by an accident of birth.
Others less fortunate, however,
stand on precipices knowing,
“History does not repeat
itself but it rhymes.”*
When Donald promises
a magnificent Great Wall
and spews religious
hatred to cheering crowds,
you must feel a guilty twinge,
knowing if this were 1943 Germany,
a chorus of incendiary voices
would echo and push innocents
off slippery cliffs into eternal darkness.
Black hole so forbidding victims
would never see their children again,
while self-serving politicians levitate
on bandwagons swerving on and off
a broken highway of eight million bones.
* Quote attributed to Mark Twain.
Lawrence Matsuda was born in the Minidoka War Relocation Center, a concentration camp for Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII. He is a regional Emmy Award-winning writer and an author of two books of poetry, A Cold Wind from Idaho and Glimpses of a Forever Foreigner. Recently, he and Tess Gallagher collaborated on a book of poetry entitled Boogie-Woogie Crisscross, and chapter one of his graphic novel, Fighting for America: Nisei Soldiers, was animated and won a 2016 regional Emmy.
This poem was previously published in Raven Chronicles.
Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.