Poetry & Fiction

Justice & Prisons

Honor Block

True to its reputation, the prison was violent. And ugly. I witnessed cuttings and stabbings in the yard. They erupted without warning, like lightning. At night in my cell, I heard the screams of men being beaten by the guards.
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Poetry

A Promised Land

How to keep the promise of a promised land? Not only a name, a place, a flag. It’s an end to wandering in the wilderness, the wilderness inside ourselves. It’s singing sweeter than scorpions. It’s touching everywhere softer than snakes. …
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Fiction

Blue, Texas

I was eating two slices of Oscar Meyer bologna that I’d topped with a squiggle of yellow mustard and squeezed between two slices of white Wonder bread. But he held a bulging thing housed between two dense slices of dark bread, a sandwich that was both pungent and foreign, about as unreal as anything I could recall.
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Fiction

Recalculating

And then, there he was again. The chutzpa, calling her, after so many years, his notions of her still intact, his cavalier assumption of intimate knowledge and his selective amnesia. He was not easily put off.
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Poetry

Black Hat

The black hat. The wig. The shawl. The thick stockings. The kerchief. The skullcap. The hidden fringes. The posted decrees. Neighbors spitting with suspicion. Roaring hooves. Thwack of sabers. The night escape. The ship. Stacked bunks in steerage. The stench. …
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Poetry & Fiction

Aubade

It’s easy to pretend / that we don’t love / the world. / But then there is / your freckled skin. A poem by Patrick Phillips.

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Poetry

The Sand Dancers

“In a faded photo, they dance on shore, / two kids we were, scuffing up bursts of sand; / hands rise and fall in a rapid step-slide-spin.” – a poem by Grace Schulman
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Poetry

Joe Louis’s Fist

“My father said when Louis won, the radio static was a wave / of sound that stayed all night like the riots blocks away in Harlem, / as the scent of lilac and gin wafted down Broadway to his window.” A poem by Peter Balakian.

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Poetry

The Legend of How the Tao Te Ching Came Into Being on Laotse’s Journey Into Exile

“When he was seventy and fragile, / the Teacher felt compelled to seek repose, / for the Good within the land was on the wane, / and Evil gaining strength again. / So he drew on his shoe.” Jon Swan’s translation of a poem by Bertolt Brecht.

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Fiction

At the Gravesite

Had I become an academic only to disprove the myth that Jews are only interested in making money, or to confirm the stereotype that Jews are smart? Or did I honestly hope to influence the younger generation?
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Poetry

Furlough

“I love to see those tall, lean, muscular men/with their clean-shaven heads and digital” a poem by Barbara Goldberg
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Poetry

Winter Commute

Dear friend, asleep / upright in a seat / when I boarded the train / goat-stepping over / your legs outstretched / why didn’t I wake you / but instead watched / you sleep. A poem by Joshua Weiner.
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Poetry

Fall to Your Knees and Thank God for Your Eyesight

the repeated words / sometimes made me think twice before / whimpering about a bruise on my knee, / or foolishly I would say the line just when she did…
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Fiction

Misty

A teacher is not one person. A teacher is the many voices he speaks and the quicksilver changes among them: the things he says to administrators and the things he says to parents; the things he says to ninth graders and the very different things he says to juniors; the farce and praise and kowtowing and congratulation, all those necessary notes across the register of human speech. We are whatever we are saying.
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Poetry

Translation depends, not on what must be included, but on what must not be left out

You enter the country next door from under the stone / Church of the Redeemer / subway exit. No Pork Chinese Restaurant / and Mr. Chicken, flank the avenue / both strictly halal.
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