Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine


Confined to the car, I’m back-

road infiltrating the town

that PR spin for my grad

school declares as its locale,

but, loyal to fiction, its postal

address is faux. This village

of deceiving appearances (my mother

remembers to warn me post-

graduation), once renowned

for its oversized posted

welcome sign:

No Jews

despite good fortune post-

modernly and currently there planted

by Jewish mothers fled from out-

door privy-limited, tenemented

ancestors surfaced from steerage post-

abandonment of Busk, Lodz, and farms

of the Pale. Bordering this hamlet—

moated from Semitic “infection,” broadsides

of the day diagnosed—poses

a city deemed safer, though I lived

and wrote and read and slept

there amid ricocheted bullets, discarded

cats gone feral, tossed syringes, spent

condoms leaking acrid puddles in the brown-

grassed park, and hourly car alarm

refrains, a descant to strains

of bathroom marriage-

breakup fights and kitchen plate-

smashing in barred-window

apartment blocks yearly repainted,

yet off-gassing VOCs of shtetls,

where hopes-of-the-future moaned

failed-to-flush toilets, bounced checks, and exiled

scraps of poetry. No sign,

in this day, prevents ingress

(or flight), no paltry-audience complaints

from poets inured to basement stages, no

tax on paper, no embargo of ink, no sword

through haystacks hiding Jewish children,

no checkpoint for identities—save

the library door you swing closed to wrack

the silence, so they will know you

are here and have planted the stacks

with the soil of your secure country:

the imagination, which could wisp

past the sentries, occupiers, pillagers,

and their singing missiles which remind

you: you are always

on the outs with a word

shaped like a promise.