A Poem for Gunter Grass: The Tin Ear

tinear


As Gunter Grass, Nobel Prize winning German author of The Tin Drum has published a poem, I thought this was an auspicious moment for me to test my poem-writing chops…

The Tin Ear

There is a man-child who never grew up
Who wants to warn the world that it might blow up
He is known as The Tin Ear
And lives in fear
that the world will go kablooie
Or as George Bush would say, nukleer

He is old but was always somewhat confused
For many years the truth to tell he refused
He wrote a book that told a tale
Of a German war of massive scale
When the world went berzerk with war
Because the Nazis did assail

The fact he omitted as he lectured others
Is that he himself was one of the brothers
When people found out they were angry that he
Was a hypocrite, which he could not see
Because he blinked and said,
“Hey, I was a kid, don’t look at me”

What he neglected to mention, of course
Is that he did have recourse
He was an adult whose lie was smooth
When he chose to hide the truth
About his role in that immoral war
Even if back then he was still a youth

But now, an old man, wizened by time
Instead of learning from his past, he has chosen to slime
The Jews
Saying they are lighting a fuse
And of they precipitating the next big bomb
He did accuse.

Not just any fuse, he says, a nuke!
Because the words of the crazy man they mistook
That is all he says about Ahmadinejad
The man with speeches of jihad
And his promises to make Israel disappear
With rockets from his launching pad.

Yes, so what if the Iranian leader
Is a Holocaust Denial cheeleader
Whose country, ten times Israel’s size,
Claims destroying the Zionists is the prize
And is building a bomb?
Who else but the Jewish state would The Tin Ear chastise?

“Yes, what we did in the war was terrible,” says The Ear
“And millions of Jews were murdered,” he adds with a crocodile tear
But the real lesson to be learned
If we are not to be burned
If what’s coming is the mother of all wars
Is that the Jews’ bad reputation is well-earned

Those war-mongering, Nazi-like monsters
Suggests the old man with his last bit of ink
Careful to add that he been reluctant to speak
And make a critique
Because even a bomb
Is not as bad as being called antisemi-tic

“Those bastard mongrels,” he implies, “of whom 6 million were unfortunately killed
Survived the war and now dare to build”
A nation, a state and a nuclear bomb
That could destroy the calm
That could go kablooie
With aplomb

So what, says The Tin Ear, if for 40 years this state
Has has the Bomb but never a threat did articulate
They are the guilty ones
And their sons
Who could make the Middle East go aflame
With their guns

He apparently misses what they did in World War Two
Go to their deaths even as Tin Ears like him knew
So now they have the nerve, says the Ear
To protect what they hold dear
And to have a device that scares some, and, he accuses
They are worse or no different than those whom they fear

Says the Ear: We are enlightened, not barbaric…unlike they
And we should let them know our dismay
Let’s weaken the Jews by claiming their defense
Makes little sense
And by not saying whether they have it or not
Is to Iran’s threats and hate…of moral equivalence

And, adds The Tin Ear, it is up to us, who support their ambiguity
To stop supporting the victims by claiming congruity
They do not need arms, submarines or support
Because there is nothing to thwart
Just ignore those who placed two armies and battalions of rockets at their door
What they need is monitoring and a report

And if the world would just understand
That the Jews, the Jews, the Jews
Have taken the land
And even if they did bloom make the sand
That this issue with the Palestinians is more important
Than the threat that’s at hand

And then all will be well and all will be fine
Because the threat, after all, is benign
And if the Jews didn’t make of it such a big deal
With their oversize zeal
And swinging their circumcised pricks
Then it will all go away with a squeal

Thus speaks The Tin Ear
After so many decades of being here
He has learned nothing from his past
And the life experience he has amassed
And apparently also has nothing to teach
So we can only hope this poem will indeed be his last.

(image source)


34 Comments

  1. Dave O

    4/5/2012 at 12:47 pm

    How about this one:

    Roses are red, violets are blue
    Gunter Grass is a Nazi douche bag.

    Not bad, right? Kinda Ogden Nash-like if I do say so myself.

    • themiddle

      4/5/2012 at 1:56 pm

      Dave, you’ve definitely put a lot of time into your poem, unlike me.

      How about:

      As I look behind me,
      The leaves on the ground
      Rustling underfoot,
      I think of Jews
      Behind me
      And in front.

      Kinda Robert Frostish? No?

      • Dave O

        4/6/2012 at 5:37 pm

        Perhaps mine was more Dice Clay than Nash, TM. I overstated my poetry prowess after reading your lovely ode to Mr. Grass. Well done, sir.

  2. seagull

    4/5/2012 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you” themiddle” for your well structured poem. What is about keeping all this discussion in the middle? What is about thinking of the consequences we will have if the worst case will be carried out? Neighbourstates of Iran won’t stay calm.That is the most valueable problem we have, the whole world has to think of. In these days no state is existing lonesome. The weappons of today allow anyone,god or evil, to do more than defending . We really need a better solution than war. Think of refugees and revenge. Günther Grass is nor a fascist nor a racist or an antisemit. All the people with these characteristics stay calm and agitate in furtive. I myself would not have written this poem, but this poem initiates a discussion or ideational realization, which is in the middle of the mind of a lot of people of the world in these days.

  3. themiddle

    4/5/2012 at 9:10 pm

    Seagull, thank you for your comment.

    If a person wants to initiate a discussion, one tactic is to set the building on fire, but the arsonist should expect the possibility of getting burned.

    If one wants to initiate a discussion, one tactic is to play devil’s advocate for one side, but then one should expect serious debate from the other side.

    If one wants to be antisemitic, one should turn the truth upside down, accuse Israel or Jews of things that are untrue while claiming Israel’s real enemies are on the same plane as Israel. But then one should anticipate being called an antisemite.

    Grass appeared to have chosen the second and third option.

    If one wishes to begin a real discussion, one represents the truth about the situation and the circumstances, not to mention the parties who are at odds, in a fair manner. Then one should expect to be treated respectfully.

    The facts here are not complicated. A brutal theocratic regime with a leadership that is suspected of having apocalyptic beliefs has openly threatened Israel with its destruction and is openly developing a nuclear program that is far beyond the needs of a civilian nuclear program. This regime has already used proxy armies to fight Israel (these are not my assertions, but stated by Khameini), has armed those forces with tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel, supported fighting against US troops in Iraq, is supporting Syria’s brutality as I write and has sponsored international terrorism against Jews as they did in Argentina when they blew up Jewish community center buildings.

    That regime is being opposed by Israel, a state one tenth Iran’s size and, unlike Iran, surrounded by real enemies and enemy rockets. That Israel is the Jewish state, containing the children and grandchildren of refugees from both the European Holocaust and the Jewish refugees from Arab lands some of whose communities faced pogroms and very challenging circumstances in the past, makes it evident that this country needs to defend itself. If anybody has any doubt, they should consider the 1948, and 1973 wars and their implications.

    Israel may have nuclear weapons, but it has never threatened to use them (at one time, one minister said something and was immediately refuted by the government) or to destroy other countries. Israel has had these weapons, apparently, for decades, and all that people know is that Israel might have them. Israel has never been belligerent about using them, has never suggested it would use them, has not sent warning training missiles to show the world how far it could reach with them. It has actually been a very solid citizen, not even having ever conducted nuclear tests.

    So if Grass wanted a debate, he would have treated this matter with fairness, not with gross distortions, false accusations, and unreasonable demands that only place the remnants of Jewry in danger. Israelis will not go to the Iranian slaughter quietly as Germans of two generations ago witnessed, and of all people who should not be lecturing Israel about its survival, a former Nazi soldier should not be on the list. It’s a bad joke to assert that he’s the pacifist and Israelis are the war-lovers.

    I’d suggest that Israel’s attitude about its survival is a direct result of what was learned in WWII and throughout many European and Arab countries before that war and even after it. And the lessons are clear: if Israel, the Jewish state, does not have the means to defend itself and to do so effectively, then it will suffer severe consequences. That doesn’t make it the belligerent party, but rather the defensive one. It is the other party that has threatened the destruction of Israel.

  4. sheela

    4/11/2012 at 5:41 pm

    Gunter Grass was the Ear’s given name,
    And he warned that we’d go up in flame
    “Kablooey!” he said,
    “Yes we’ll all end up dead
    And the Jews, as always, are to blame!”

    A quick one-off, that one. If you give me more time I can think up some more… but maybe you’d rather I not…

  5. sheela

    4/11/2012 at 5:46 pm

    There once was a fellow named Grass
    Who gave his own childhood a pass
    Since he chose not to look
    When ten million* were took,
    And now he talks out of his ass.

    *That’s six million Jews and five million more lives of other ethnic backgrounds, in case anyone reading this tries to accuse me of being myopic.

  6. sheela

    4/11/2012 at 5:57 pm

    Last one for the evening:

    Gunter Grass was a writer of sorts
    With a head like the ass of a horse
    Who said, “No one’s to blame
    If we go up in flame
    But those Zionist hoodlums, of course!”

    • themiddle

      4/11/2012 at 7:01 pm

      I like this one the best. Thanks, Sheela. Now admit it, there really aren’t too many activities more fulfilling than writing poems about Gunther Grass, are there?

      • sheela

        4/12/2012 at 10:33 am

        The only one I can think of is watching videos of Drake rapping at his Bar Mitzvah lol

  7. SEAGULL

    4/13/2012 at 10:33 am

    @ sheeela, actually Mr. G.G. never said:”And he warned that we’d go up in flame
    “Kablooey!” he said,
    “Yes we’ll all end up dead
    @ sheela:”And the Jews, as always, are to blame!”
    Stay by the facts please! He never was talking about “the jews” he was talking about a reighning government, local affairs. Are you actually knowing about the health and the condition situation of the jewish community worldwide? G.G. and the democratic front, the secularised and enlightened front is staying at your side since ages. Forget the hate! And realize that wounds are not healed by revenge. The cleverer give in, you know about the costs, a state has to pay for forces, do you know about the diseases of soldiers comming back? In war there is never a winner besides speculants and weappon dealers. You will never get patience or silence by defending the mills. Open your eyes and ears and look the people in the eye!

  8. sheela

    4/13/2012 at 10:50 am

    First of all, it’s “Sheela,” my dear.

    Secondly, please review this concise definition of a “limmerick,” as borrowed from “Poetry Online”:

    “The form of poetry referred to as Limerick poems have received incredibly bad press and dismissed as not having a rightful place amongst what is seen as ‘cultivated poetry’. The reason for this is three-fold:

    The content of many limericks is often of a bawdy and humorous nature.

    A Limerick as a poetry form is by nature simple and short – limericks only have five lines.

    And finally the somewhat dubious history of limericks have contributed to the critics attitudes.”

    I’m sorry that you’re so lacking in a sense of humor that you think I did not know that a “cultivated poet” such as Gunter Grass did not, in fact, use the actual word “kablooey.”

  9. SEAGULL

    4/13/2012 at 11:31 am

    @ sheela, thank you for your time and your respond, i mean it!, still i do not know what “kablooey.”means, but this should be a knew subject. We have so many poetry conventions here in berlin and join it! Could you be so kind as to explain me stupid , as stupid declaring herself, to tell me staightly what it means:”kablooey”? Love from Berlin!

  10. seagull

    4/13/2012 at 11:39 am

    Dear Sheela, as i was told in school, a limerick is an 5 line nonsense verse.

  11. SEAGULL

    4/13/2012 at 11:48 am

    Dear Sheela, in Germany the word “kablooey.” is blocked! Draw your own conclusions about this.

  12. sheela

    4/13/2012 at 4:47 pm

    “Kablooey” is a funny sound effect to describe a huge explosion. Variations on the word include: Kabbam!, kapow! and kaboom! In the early ’70′s there was a breakfast cereal called “kaboom!” that featured an image of a huge cartoon-like explosion on the front of the box. It was later referenced in the movie “Kill Bill: Volume 1″ as the cereal box where one of the assassins hid her gun.
    I honestly have no idea why “kablooey” would be blocked. I know no other meaning of the word other than what I’ve described above.
    Hope that helps!
    Cheers
    Sheela
    p.s. Edward Lear wrote many funny, nonsensical limmericks, which is why you might have thought them to be “nonsense verse,” but they often take the form of slightly off-color sexual jokes or lighthearted political commentary as well. At any rate, while the original subject matter may be serious, the traditional limmerick — a five line poem with the first two lines rhyming with the fifth line and the third and fourth lines rhyming together — should rarely, if ever, be considered as serious discourse in and of itself.

  13. themiddle

    4/13/2012 at 9:20 pm

    Seagull wrote:

    “He never was talking about “the jews” he was talking about a reigning government, local affairs.”

    Sadly, he was talking about the Jews. The explanation that he meant the Netanyahu government is what he gave after he received a lot of criticism. Suddenly, it was no longer “Israel” but the Netanyahu government.

    Really?

    The Israeli nuclear program and Israel’s strategy of not admitting whether a nuclear program even exists were designed decades before Netanyahu came into office.

    Anyway, even if he meant Netanyahu, which he didn’t or he would have written so (he refers to Ahmadinejad), the Netanyahu government has not threatened anybody with nukes. It also hasn’t threatened Iran with a nuclear war or with annihilation as he claims. They have said that they will have to take steps to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. They have stated they prefer to have sanctions work instead of an attack on Iran. Also, there is still a big public debate with Israeli high ranking officials and former officials, including some in the IDF, who openly speak out against an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Grass, however, places the possibility of a massive war at the feet of Israel, not Iran. He considers Israel to be the dangerous party bringing about war, not Iran.

    He also suggests that the history of what his people did to the Jews is what’s preventing the truth from being spoken openly. If you think about this concept a little you will understand that he is turning the victim into the non-victim and even into the aggressor who prevents the truth from being spoken.

    What he is saying is that of all the nations in the world, the one bringing the globe to the precipice of major war is the Jewish state. The fact that he says this against all evidence to the contrary tells you all you need to know. Do you see? Of all the nations in the world, he picked the Jewish one. Does Germany sell arms to other countries? Of course it does. In fact, in the past German companies sold material to Iranian companies, including dual use technology. So why is Grass focusing on arms sales to Israel? Why is he claiming that Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, is the cause of the trouble here when the other side is the real cause?

    To you this may just be a poem. But let me tell you something, and this is something which I acknowledge many Jews and also Israelis will disagree, but it is my interpretation. To me, this poem is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda against Jews before and during WWII (and with extreme Right after the war). Somehow, the state of the German economy, social problems in Germany, the war itself and anything else the Nazis could dream up were blamed on the Jews, with the accusations often printed in the German media. These accusations were used as justification for Nuremberg laws and for the genocide in WWII.

    What Grass is doing in this poem is not different. Here is a German writer, one who actually served as a Nazi and then hid the fact, singling out the Jewish state from among all states. He accuses the Jewish state, instead of any other state, of fomenting war – one that will turn the world itself into war – even as the Jewish state is frantically attempting to avoid war and to avoid having a key enemy develop a tool to destroy it (literally destroy and eliminate millions of Jews which is the tragedy one or two nukes landing on Israel will cause).

    So you see, if there is a war and Israel is destroyed, just as happened in WWII, Grass and his supporters can claim (as he says in this poem) that it is Israel’s fault for creating this war in the first place. He blames the Jews. Just like the Nazis did.

  14. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 10:59 am

    Dear the reading ones,
    I was cited badly and shamefully incorrect by selfproclaiming: ” themiddle”. Actually i wrote and said-and this is the original ihave and will stay to:”Mr. Grass never used the “word “jews” in his poem. as i know the jews, more ore less religious by origin are spread all over the world. MR.GRASS WAS TALKING ABOUT PROFANE POLITICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM VERY ANGRY, THAT I AM NOT CITED CORRECTLY!
    THERE IS A DECENT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEFENDING THE BORDERS AND AN OFFENSIVE WAR FAR AWAY FROM THE OWN TERRITORY!

  15. SEAGULL

    4/15/2012 at 11:06 am

    And every cite should be read in full :”Stay by the facts please! He never was talking about “the jews” he was talking about a reighning government, local affairs. Are you actually knowing about the health and the condition situation of the jewish community worldwide? G.G. and the democratic front, the secularised and enlightened front is staying at your side since ages. Forget the hate! And realize that wounds are not healed by revenge. The cleverer give in, you know about the costs, a state has to pay for forces, do you know about the diseases of soldiers comming back? In war there is never a winner besides speculants and weappon dealers. You will never get patience or silence by defending the mills. Open your eyes and ears and look the people in the eye!”I answered the other block too. And it actually means no difference to the fact that Isreal alone could not afford to do an offensive war. The fact, that we have to many wars worldwide right now is true!

  16. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 11:32 am

    cite 2:” Dear the middle,
    to understand what i was talking about:youtube.com/wa…. And: What are the consequences of war. Every dead person is a person too much. War is worth for nothing. War is not a game, and any war(action) evokes another war(reaction) and so on!(perpetuum mobile). To speculate about that”only 300 people will die” is a sin and a crime! Nobody can tell what will happen, if… .But you can be sure: We will all pay for it! again and again and again.
    cite 3;”
    I have to add dear “themiddle” that Mr. Grass has never used the word “jews” in his poem. As i know the “jews” are spread all over the world. He is actually not speaking of a community, more or less religious by origin. He was talking about a state and profane plitics. His “poem” is literary useless and bad.”
    cite4:” And 3rd i really have do say that i more liked the first version: ” I have no idea, what you are talking about” than “I do not have a clue’”. Because: an idea implicites a will, a knoledge and an ability, “a clue” just says to me that you are on the slang part, having no own idea and support the masses, because it is soo chique! I really liked the first version more, it showed a strong, independent, thinking character, which nobody could push down. I like straight people staying.”

  17. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 11:37 am

    And Mr. “themiddle” what you are doing actually is spreading hate and confusion. You bite the hand of peace, democracy, justice and honesty. And the worst mistake you make actually is escluding jews of other nationalities!
    You will bite any hand only because this hand belongs to a body with the wrong passport!

  18. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 2:23 pm

    We will not be guilty by association again and again and again, nice to hear that you”the middle” where never in real danger. a “sigh” means for me that you are discussing right sitting quite well and are able to proclaim your demagogue statetements in calmths. you are actually not representing the real middle of society, you are standing with your comments at the ultimate dextra side! Why do you not go to vomite!

  19. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 2:33 pm

    Pass out for your unreliability. pass out of you never served the armes, pass out for beeing a demagogue, pass out for beeing so weak to resond with words. and pass out for all this shit happening worldwide against humans, ordinary people, this pass out would be the valuating pass out. Here is your chance to proclaime yourself actually standing at the right front of the middle to pass out honestly!

  20. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 2:35 pm

    WEAKY!

  21. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 4:38 pm

    demagogues and hass prayers will never destroy my love and solidarity to the jewish folk, I am a victim of non “declared” jewish originaltiy and i love the persian people too, have givin’ me love here in germany. If you israesl bomb my friends in Iran i will defend you as german.If you invent and bomb Iran you will see what we germans are going to do. I will not decide between you an d the persians. If you bomb Iran you bomb my home country germany. We germans love the persians and we will defend persia, not your weappon industry supported demagogues will take our will or will have the might to shut us up!

  22. seagull

    4/15/2012 at 5:07 pm

    Not even dare to bomb or attack the persians!

  23. themiddle

    4/16/2012 at 10:34 am

    I’m sure Mr. Grass is very impressed with the quality of his supporters.

  24. seagull

    4/17/2012 at 12:35 pm

    “I think Mr. Grass” will also be appreciated to see your interpretation. We will see the quality of your education and, will and quality in future for finding a “right” and also peacefull solution.youtube.com/wa...

  25. seagull

    4/17/2012 at 12:51 pm

    You still did not get it yet, that this all is not dealing about a stupid poem anylonger. This hole discussion is about findind a dueable solution for a long lasting problem without killing civils anylonger and finally end the agression.

  26. themiddle

    4/17/2012 at 3:36 pm

    Did I mention that I’m sure Mr. Grass is very impressed with the quality of his supporters?

  27. seagull

    4/23/2012 at 11:08 am

    Your sureness or will is not a file or brand mark for the real middle of society woldwide. You have chosen a non identifiable internet name, unfortunately you have chosen “the middle”, the heart and the pulse of any society, but you are not in the will of anybody or in an absolute standard. As you seem to work for this plattform regularly, i already put you chess matt, but your community deleted it. No prob! It was always the nationalists, who initiated wars, never seen any war, which has made anything better!
    But you “god-themiddle” will certainly give me a positive respond! i am not interested in winning, i am interested in comming back any soldier unharmed i had to send out by people calling herself selfishly “the middle”, which where themselves never at the fighting front.

  28. seagull

    4/23/2012 at 11:22 am

    Reliabily, fairness,decorum, honesty, respectability, reputability; items, which real coulture is made of. These are the real values a decent reliable and consistant society is made of and will survive on !

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