January 13, 2017 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION




Deborah Kahan Kolb



Brandenburg Gate



Is it fixed now –

now that a flag of light, of blue and of white,

wraps itself around the Brandenburg Gate


because four Jewish soldiers on a Jerusalem corner were crushed

into the world to come by a truck blind with hate?


In 1939 crimson flags billow and bleed

beneath the columns of the Brandenburg Gate,

adorned with marching black swastikas, like twisted tarantulas

who exterminate their living prey.


Unter den Linden is now a street, was once a song

my Bubbe hummed

to her long ago babies in a dying tongue,

her Yiddish not so very unlike the German they spit

to the goosestep and drum

behind bolted synagogue doors just as they lit


up the pyres of Jews; and the SS helmets then darkened

her doorstep and made a memory of her four Jewish births.


In 2017 the Brandenburg Gate is lit up in brilliant

blue and white with a six-pointed star – not yellow

this time, not howling Jude, but still announcing to the world

the slaughter of Jews.




(I wrote this poem in response to a recent news story that reported and pictured Germany’s Brandenburg Gate emblazoned with the colors of Israel’s flag, in solidarity with the killing of four Israeli soldiers in a terrorist truck attack).






The Woman in the Ring



was clearly celebrating


Life. Or the abdication of


To my eight year old


she was glorious, a


swathed in chieftain


a glistening Santa Fe


nestled in the silver


of her throat’s dusky



When she laughed her bright teeth

moonbeamed from her brown mouth but

my mama said I must be dreaming.

When she swirled her frayed skirts

frolicked with her shining calves but

my mama said it was time to grow up.

When she beckoned with a crooked finger

cracked long ago by the rage of a large man

my mama said stop yo’ nonsense now


I was in thrall to the

cottony dread-

locks snaking down her bony back

wrapped in a gleaming

band of sun-

shine, to the glint of gold

peeping between

her tinseled toe-

nails, and I never noticed

the blackened fissures

of her cracked heel, or her

scabby pale palm,

or our matching meta-





(This poem was written in response to various images of the Dakota Pipeline protests).






Deborah Kahan Kolb

Deborah Kahan Kolb

I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn and currently living in the Bronx. Much of my poetry is informed by the unique experiences and challenges of growing up in, and ultimately leaving, the insular world of Hasidic Judaism.

I earned my BA and MA degrees in English/Creative Writing from CUNY Queens College, where I served as editor of the Queens College Journal of Jewish Studies and was the recipient of the James E. Tobin Poetry Award, the Lois Hughson Essay Prize, and the Essay Prize in Holocaust/Genocide Studies. I earned my MS in School Administration and Supervision from Touro College, after which I served as principal of a private school for Jewish children of Central Asian descent.

My work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetica, Voices Israel, Veils, Halos & Shackles, The New Verse News, Literary Mama, and has been selected as a finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award.

My debut poetry collection, entitled Windows and a Looking Glass, was selected as a finalist for the 2016 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition by Finishing Line Press, and is forthcoming in February 2017.


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