Since Every Gun Is A Credible Threat                             by Samantha Landau

“No, I was not in that number, though I still have the fire and the smoke
within me, pillars of fire and pillars of smoke that guide me”
--Yehuda Amichai
Congregation, the presence of our bodies
Draws the gun closer
Even so we continue chanting
A phrase passed in the old tongue
From generation to generation—

מיר װעלן זײ איבערלעבן    “We will outlive them”

When our ancestors were rounded up
Forced to silence, expected to cower
Gunfire the sole interruption 
To an old klezmer tune
Loudly, they sang  

מיר װעלן זײ איבערלעבן איבערלעבן
מיר װעלן זײ איבערלעבן איבערלעבן

מיר װעלן זײ איבערלעבן


מיר, “me, we, us,”
Together we are unafraid & defiant

זײ, “them,”
The hateful, with murderous intent

איבערלעבן “to outlive”
“to survive,” “to live longer than”
Outlive, for the memory of those who perished
Survive, my body proof my ancestors are still here
Live longer than, for I was there singing with them
At that time and in that place
My voice among theirs.
.מיר װעלן זײ איבערלעבן, היינט און אלעמאל  
We will outlive them, today and always.

Guided by fire, by smoke, 
May our singing efface
The thunder of bullets.

Samantha Landau is a Jewish-American academic, classical vocalist, translator, and writer who resides in Tokyo, Japan, where she has lived for nearly two decades. She works as a professor at The University of Tokyo and holds an MA and PhD in comparative culture from International Christian University. She completed her BA at Cornell University. She is a co-founder of the Gothic in Asia Association. Recently, she co-edited an issue of Women’s Studies on Emily Dickinson and Music, and co-organized conferences on Asian Folklore and the Gothic. Her creative writing centers on issues of identity and the supernatural. This is her first poetry publication.

Guest Editor Hyejung Kook’s poems have appeared in POETRY MagazineDenver QuarterlyPrairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of PoetryPleiades, and elsewhere. Other works include an essay in Critical Flame and a chamber opera libretto. Born in Seoul, Korea, she now lives in Kansas with her husband and their two children. Learn more at her website.


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