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Thursday, June 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jessica Schueller of Gonzaga Prep places third for poem in Observance of Holocaust writing and art contests

UPDATED: Thu., April 25, 2019, 2:44 p.m.

Jessica Schueller is a 12th-grader at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane. (Courtesy photo)
Jessica Schueller is a 12th-grader at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane. (Courtesy photo)
From staff reports

The Spokane Community Observance of the Holocaust has announced the top three selections in the high school division of the 13th annual Eva Lassman Memorial Writing and Art Contests. The contest theme is “Speaking Up for ‘the Other’.”

The contest asked participants to learn about the Holocaust and read about or listen to some of the many stories of survivors who were labeled “the other” by the Nazis, and consider these questions:

What are the lessons you learned from their stories that had a major impact on you? Why is it important to speak up for those who are considered “the other”?

Who are “the other” today? Based on the lessons you learned, what are you motivated to do to speak up for them?

If you go

The contest winners will be recognized at the Spokane Community Observance of the Holocaust at 7 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Shalom, 1322 E. 30th Ave., on Spokane’s South Hill. The winner of the creative writing contest will read her essay at the Observance. Everyone is invited to attend.

Third place, writing, high school

‘Elegy with Variations’

By Jessica Schueller

12th grade

Gonzaga Preparatory School

CANTO I

Voices, voices.

Why do you haunt me?

Close the books,

Replace the covers.

I’ve done you no harm.

Grandmother, grandfather,

You were in China during this war

Tortured by the Japanese

Why do your eyes accuse me from this screen?

My tongue writhes in my mouth

I can make no excuses.

I thought I knew –

You know how it goes –

Lice and striped pajamas

Anne Frank-in-the-Annex

Choking on insecticide,

Gouges in the doors.

I don’t mean to trivialize

Only summarize

The tears prick my eyes.

An enormous monstrous tale of human suffering.

The oceans of tears,

The sound of gnashing teeth,

Why do I cry?

The word cuts my tongue.

Holocaust!

CANTO II

My friends! My family!

Did we forget?

In the static, the voices crack and waver

Heavy with tears

Mother, mother, where are you?

I never saw my brother again,

They are gone, all

Gone.

Gone up in smoke.

What does a human face look like

Twisted by inhuman hatred?

Consider:

Nobody can tell you about the gas

Nobody lived to tell.

Six million Jews died.

A statistic.

Six million

Mothers, fathers

Brothers, sisters

Grandparents, babies

Sons and daughters

Burnt up.

The piles of hair were once attached to individual heads.

CANTO III

Kill me with your indifference.

Why should we care?

It happened so long ago,

Why should we castigate ourselves?

Hitler is dead.

Six million Jews are dead.

One point eight million Polish civilians are dead.

Two hundred thousand Roma are dead.

We give ourselves too much credit;

It could happen again.

Two million died in Cambodia (thirty years later)

Eight hundred thousand died in Rwanda (fifty years later)

Two hundred thousand died in Bosnia (fifty years later)

How many die today?

Listen, o my brothers!

Hitler is dead.

Indifference?

Hatred?

Eat people alive.

Canto IV

Bar the doors,

Throw up the windows.

Unfurl the flags,

Open up the camps.

Other, other, we are all

Other, we could all be

Other.

My mother, my brother.

Cry me to sleep,

Don’t take me alive.

CANTO V

What nightmares!

What hellish visions!

Shake off the cobwebs

A new millennium awaits.

iPhones and genocide

smoggy nights and national pride

plastic bags and enmity

city streets

human monstrosity.

There are no stars left.

O my cynicism, brand me.

Hope, have hope.

CANTO VI

Seven

Hundred

Thousand

Rohingya Muslims have

Fled

Myanmar.

They brought with them stories of

Indiscriminate killing

Burning villages.

These are stories of a

Genocide

That began in

2017

And continues

Today.

People are

Starving

In

Yemen

Where

Twenty

Million

People are

At Risk.

The conflict in

Darfur

Has claimed

Four

Hundred

Fifty

Thousand

Lives

Since 2003.

10

Million

People have been displaced from

Syria,

Where

Two

Hundred

Thousand

People have died.

Thirteen

thousand

migrant children

are being held in

camps

on the US border.

Where are the offerings of sanctuary?

Where are the peacekeeping forces?

Where are our promises to

Never

Ever

Let this happen again?

America, America

My country ‘tis of thee

You have blood on your hands.

CANTO VII

Let me choke then

On this fatal hypocrisy

Let him who is without sin

Throw the first stone.

What do we do?

So many little crises.

We could drown in a world of pain.

There are no easy solutions.

There are no excuses.

CANTO VIII

How many children died today?

How many children were killed today?

CANTO IX

To offer some solutions –

Nineteen years of solutions

Sixteen years of solutions –

Regardless –

1) Kill your indifference kill your hatred kill your apathy

2) Never forget

3) Allow me to speak for one moment –

That when Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist

Was murdered by operatives of the leader of Saudi Arabia

(Mohammed bin Salman), the media began uncovering what

MBS had also been up to, what Jamal Khashoggi had been reporting on

When he was killed.

There is a civil war going on in Yemen, and Saudi Arabia

Had gotten involved. And consequently also its ally,

The US.

Thirteen million civilians were in (are) in danger of starvation,

In what the UN has termed a “humanitarian disaster”.

When the people – the American people – learned of this

Public support forced the House of Representatives to introduce a resolution

To End the US’ Involvement In The War In Yemen.

(It has not passed into law yet, but, regardless):

It was us, the public, the constituency

That caused this measure to be introduced,

It was us.

We were not indifferent.

CANTO X

I have not lost faith in myself

In my family

In my city

In my country

In the world

In the entire human race

To act for what is good

What is just

And true

And fair

And right.

To fight for the other—

Friend

Family

Stranger

And

Enemy.

Speak up, speak up

Don’t whisper,

Shout.

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