Yermiyahu Ahron Taub


Remembering Rosa Luxemburg in the “New” Times Square

Rosa, the porno theaters have vanished,
but the dreams remain.
They’ve only migrated from the realm of shadow
to the blare of billboards

The flashing lights reveal your face, exhausted after a rally,
......after yet another essay completed
Rosa, I’ve lost the words to this poem.
I’ve lost my way to you.
Frantically, I’ve searched my old computer,
even the floppy disks. To no avail.
All I have are these lines scribbled down about

The scope of your vision,
your finely wrought theories,
now so buffeted by vogue winds
and the claims of identity politics and multiculturalism
.......the singularity of your stances—
the courage of your opposition to the “Great War”
—the slaughter of workers everywhere—
even when others caved to the pressures of nationalism,
even when it landed you in prison,
your insistence on freedom and international solidarity and democracy
even in revolution’s heady throes,
your critique of Lenin’s reign of terror,
even as you knew what was to come,
those many years, sometimes with Leo, sometimes without him,
how the absence of his embrace could never deflect you for long,
truly a life in love and in struggle,
in loving struggle, in struggling love,
all of this, Rosa, has made its way into the memory halls of justice,
into the meetings of the groups that trickle into basements
seeking somehow to end the carnage campaigns of today

and yes even if that very sweep erased the particular,
even if the interconnections of nation, minority, and self
never found fruition in your analysis—
you, the immigrant from Poland, the woman with a doctorate and a limp,
the Jew relentlessly attacked in anti-Jewish terms—
even if that. Still,

Rosa, you resist my rose colored glasses.
Your ideas are too immense;
the events of your life are too neon—
from your revolutionary schoolgirlhood in Warsaw
to your corpse dumped in the Berlin canal after torture¬—
to be squeezed into a single soliloqu/ode,
even one this unkempt, this ungainly

So I summon you here,,
beneath the claims for revolutionary bikini briefs
the announcements of new gadgets already outmoded,
the fabrication of craving for all things superfluous
the beams of searchlight oblivious to the sweatshops
and the sex slaves invisible to the dragons of grace
and the homeless men shouting for retribution and shelter and fifty cents
near the lone, if never lonely, military recruiting station
by the ruins of the glory holes and the ghosts of go-go boys perished,
I fondle the shards of my credit card, and I pause, gasping, to ask:

Rosa, Rosa, how did it come to this?

Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) and Leo Jogiches (1867-1919), leaders in European social democracy

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Insatiable Psalm (Hershey, Pa.: Wind River Press, 2005) and What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn (West Lafayette, Ind.: Parlor Press, 2008; Free Verse Editions series). He was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists. Visit his web site at

(author retains copyright)