This is a remarkable collection of poems about the Holocaust by a poet who himself survived horrific abuse during his childhood and adolescence (see The Endless Search: A Memoir in this database). "He had in mind a thousand year Reich," Ray writes (p. 16), but it has become "the thousand year Kaddish." But the grief of the Holocaust has begun to move away from us after only 60 years, and we turn our backs on continuing atrocity and death, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, for example, (p.22) and the Death Squads of South America.

While the author was a small boy in Mingo, Oklahoma, "Dr. Mengele was cutting girls in half, twins." (p. 28) This evil remains in the world. Ray celebrates the survivors and acknowledges the very real grief that exists in the world, but he also understands that evil is an inextricable dimension of human nature. In the words Ray attributes to Adolf Eichmann just before he was hanged, "Your world is full of me, I am all over the place . . . and whether you like it or not, what I have done will be done." (pp. 66-67)


In a blurb on the back cover of One Thousand Years, Studs Terkel writes, "In this important contribution to the history of human suffering," David Ray shows us "that his own suffering has not been in vain." Indeed, Ray is a survivor of an abusive childhood, the death of a son, and a long struggle with bipolar disorder. He is surely a Wounded Healer. These poems, some of them bitter and full of rage, come together as a unified healing act that is greater than the sum of its parts, especially in the stunning long poem, "Under Sentence of Death: Occupied France, 1943" (pp. 101-120). In "The Musician," with which the book ends (p. 121), the poet writes of the survivor, "What will you do? they asked him . . . He would try to rehabilitate God. He began with a violin."


Timberline Press

Place Published

Fulton, Mo.



Page Count