Beatles in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1967

I take the train to Auschwitz from the white
Kraków of Mongols and Copernicus
to the extermination camp, and night
of nights for souls herded by Brownshirt soulless.
Soon after the war, the train’s almost empty.
I step on the rust platform where SS
Schutzstaffel doctor Josef Mengele,
for lined-up Jews, chose barracks or gas shower.

Baby shoes, ovens. Gallows for the unruly.
The Arbeit Macht frei gate. I leave the tower-
ing smokestacks, trudge back to the platform. Truly 
gruesome. Bored, stunned by time, a workman
drops a coin in the jukebox just above
us: “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band.”
The beat’s so strong we tap our feet, and kiss
the poisoned air with “All You Need Is Love.”

From Mexico In My Heart: New And Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2015) by Willis Barnstone. Copyright © 2015 by Willis Barnstone. Used with the permission of the poet.