First edition | Death March, 1945 for Ben-Zion Gold

First Edition features new original works by Northern California Jewish writers. Appearing the first issue of each month, it includes a poem and an excerpt from a novel or short story.

by chana bloch

“There was a muddy ditch at the side of the road

where the road took a sudden turn. If I could jump —.”

Five Muselmänner abreast, the trekking dead,

skeletons on the march to some other camp.

“I came up with a plan: if it wasn’t already too late,

if the weather held, if the guard didn’t turn his head,

by the grace of dark I’d make my way to the right

and take my chances. Chances were all I had.”

“Where in that hell did you find the nerve to live?

You knew what lay ahead if you were caught.”

I thought he’d say, “No choice. Jump or be killed,”

but he wasn’t giving lessons on being brave.

“I was loved,” he said, “when I was a child.”              

I tell his story every chance I get.          


Chana Bloch is an award-winning poet, translator and scholar. She taught for over 30 years at Mills College, where she was chair of the English Department and directed the Creative Writing Program.

“Death March” appears in her new book, “Swimming in the Rain: New and Selected Poems, 1980-2015.” Bloch lives in Berkeley and will hold a book launch at 5 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Morrison Library, U.C. Berkeley.

For a full listing of book events, see

Works may be submitted to fiction editor Ilana DeBare at [email protected] or poetry editor Joan Gelfand at
[email protected] Fiction excerpts may run up to 2,500 words,
but only 800 words will appear in the print edition, with the rest appearing online. All prose and poetry published to date can be viewed at