Bob Slaymaker


All-American Irish Kid,
Queens, New York, 1968

"Turn off that Nazi shit,"
I told my mother,
my innocent, German-speaking mother,
who'd tuned in her German language program
while scrubbing the kitchen floor.

Despite her ancestry,
at eleven I wasn't German --
no, no, not German.
I was my father's boy,
an all-American Irish kid
who watched Hogan's Heroes, Combat,
other World War II shows.
"German" wasn't in my vocabulary.
"Krauts," "Sieg Heil!" and "Nazis" were.

On her knees scrubbing,
my beautiful young mother rose,
with a silent sigh switched off the radio.