The Three Faces of Evil

Pitkin Avenue hit-men for hire hung out at Midnight Rose’s

24 hour candy store taking orders from Lucky Luciano.

With eyes of stone they killed over 400, favoring

an ice-pick in the ear to simulate a natural death.

When Abe Reles got the heave-ho from the sixth floor

window of the swanky Half-Moon Hotel, he was called:

“The canary who sang but couldn’t fly.”

Hairy handball cronies rushed out of the schvitz

horrified at the blood-stained Coney Island boardwalk.

Polar bear bathers shivered and blinked, as flashbulbs

 popped, recording yet another chapter of Murder Inc.

An army of pushcarts lined Brownsville ’s Belmont Avenue ,

peddlers hawked their wares, shoppers wrapped in babushkas

fingered “Chiney” oranges, beet roots and soup greens from Canarsie farms.

Pots and pans clanked in the wind, live carp and pike frantically swam in circles

awaiting the club. Customers tasted mouth-watering barrels of half-sour pickles,

inhaling spicy odors of lox, salami, and shmaltz herring while waiting for ritually

slaughtered plump pullets and ducks. The acrid smoke of burnt pin feathers filled

the air as blood spattered on newspapers carrying headlines of imminent war.

Sitting on an orange crate in front of her cart, a shrewd market woman with

weather-crinkled skin stared at the bustling crowd with rheumy eyes, cradling a

pumpernickel under her arm, carving off a thick slice, sipping a svetouchnee tea.

It looked like a scene in Bailystock, Minsk or Pinsk where villagers

that week heard a pounding on the door in the middle of the night.  

Yellow stars of David were rounded up, some shot on the spot,

others beaten, cattle cars carting them off  to the camps.

Menacing tanks roared on from Poland to France ,

Kate Smith sang: “God Bless America .”

Boatloads of refugees who couldn’t believe

what was happening until it was too late, were turned

away from our shores, never to be heard from again.

Milton P. Ehrlich