"Eighteen Ways of Looking at Magneto Destroy Auschwitz in X-Men: Apocalypse"

Aaron Kreuter

Aaron Kreuter is the author of the short story collection You and Me, Belonging and the poetry collection Arguments for Lawn Chairs. He is currently writing a novel that takes place at Jewish sleepover camp.

“When I first watched X-Men: Apocalypse, I was blown away by the audacity, the visual crassness, the absolute splendid wrongness of this scene, and I knew I had to respond to it in one way or another. As often happens, that way ended up being a poem—perhaps the longest poem I’ve ever written. I knew right away there would be eighteen different ways: 18, or chai, is the Jewish number symbolic of life. Slowly but surely, the poem came into the world.”

         One

     You get it, right?
     Auschwitz is a symbol.
     It’s that symbol he destroys.
     No, it doesn’t matter what
     it’s a symbol for—
     I can’t believe you’d even ask me that—
     because in the context
     of the movie it just makes
     perfect narrative sense.
     Do you get it? Auschwitz is a
     symbol. It’s that symbol
     he destroys. A symbol
     for, for…for something or other. How
     many times do I have to
     explain it?

 

         Two

For this shoot we need balance. Balance, balance, balance. And insane carnage swaddled in massive symphonic music. Now Michael, who are you? Yes, you’re Magneto. But you’re also Eric. Eric, Magneto, Michael. In that order. And Ian. Can’t forget old Ian. Your young Polish family was just murdered by incompetent policemen in a freak accident in the woods, let’s not forget this. Use it. You were tortured here, your mother was killed in front of you, here. Remember? Remember? Use it. You ate a terrible eggplant parmagiana sandwich yesterday? Use it! You’re doing this for them, for the dead, the tortured, all those horrifically murdered eggplants—I mean, dead. Horrifically murdered dead. Alrighty? Great. And—roll camera!

 

         Three

     The movie? Terrible.
     The scene? Horrendous.
     The acting? Laughable.
     The genocidal shark? Jumped.
     My ire? Raised.
     The special effects?
     Spectacular.

 

         Four

     No Nazis were harmed
     in the making of this revenge fantasy.

 

         Five

     Can you be a misanthrope
     if in their eyes
     you are not even human?

 

         Six

     The rabbi is dead.
     The tribes have recalled their ambassadors.
     Your answering machine is full.
     Still, I’ll go on.

 

         Seven

     The dream of revenge.
     The reality of mutation.
     The nightmare of power.

 

         Eight

     What would my grandfathers (never met) think of this?
     What would Herzl think of this?
     What would my Palestinian cousin in diaspora think of this?
     What would Hoss?
     Maimonides?
     Rachel?
     Someone not wearing these meshungena
     3D glasses?

 

         Nine

     Of course it should be destroyed.
     Of course we are complicit.
     Of course those buildings should be ripped
     from the earth like so many blighted trees,
     not to mention that museum.
     Of course Auschwitz is an idea
     and like any idea once brick-and-mortared
     will remain in trace amounts
     in the air, in the soil, in the seas,
     no matter what mutant’s rage.
     Of course, of course, of course.
     Or, not.

 

         Ten

     This is the furnace
     in which I was forged.
     I will burn it down.

 

         Eleven

     The folly of furnaces.
     The human folly of furnaces.

 

         Twelve

     A chess game with the professor
     might calm you down.
     A world that makes sense.
     Where nothing is hidden,
     nothing lurking,
     festering,
     waiting.

 

         Thirteen

     Don’t forget Oscar Isaac.
     He’s there too,
     behind those matte car doors.

 

         Fourteen

     Leaving the villa in Wannsee,
     my whole body electric.
     How can I resist telling Evie?
     Both of us stunningly alive,
     alive, alive. Alive in History.

 

         Fifteen

     Leaving the gift shop,
     a sickening realization:
     you forgot to buy
     the Crematorium II keychain
     for your nephew.
     Oh, what a world!

 

         Sixteen

     Dreams of steel and tin.
     The pull of the moon.
     A neutron star humming.
     Something unseen,
     gathering.

 

         Seventeen

Concentration camps. Death centers. Killing fields. Auction blocks. Displaced persons camps. Residential schools. Urban ghettos. Blast zones. Destruction radii. Fallout. No men’s land. Museums. Memorials. Plinths. Pit mines. Strip mines. Vertical shaft single stage hoisting mines. Ethnic enclaves. Islands of plastic in seas of nuclear waste. Sound stages. Green screens. Movie theaters. Smart screens. Supermarkets. Checkpoints.

 

         Eighteen

     She rustled in her sleep.
     She murmured in a language thought dead.
     She sighed deeply.
     She dreamed on.