Aba Shtoltzenberg: Boys on the Square

Boys on the Square
by Aba Shtoltzenberg

They go barefoot around the school river
between bones and broken glass,
and dig worms to catch fish
and catch bugs in yellow grass

They stand near the slaughter house all day
and eagerly smell raw blood
and learn to hold small knives in hand
and with sticks make sword play

and go to skin fallen horses
when they become age ten
and hear house Jews tell of woods
with Leyze Pompes band of men

They flop down on hard beds
and cannot sleep at night
too little water in School River
too little fish and pike

Succos when the wild geese fly.
the boys on the square strike death
They don’t take the imperial road
but through dark woods and deep swamp
through hide-outs and poison grass.