Five Poems by Eleanor Levine

The Day After

I’m crying for you America.
For all the bullies who have picked on you.
Knotted your hair in a twist.
Soaked your face in leeches.
Perpetuated myths about your reality.
Sunk you in the apple barrel and pushed you deeper into it.
Made you drown, but let you breathe, only to worry you might drown again.
I am sorry for the smiles that have dissipated in a handshake.
Words that have fried in your heart.
We are in a bowl of unclean toilet water.
Nothing is coming in.
We are vapors in the war, in the trenches, where rats yield their teeth
And ironies disappear into monstrosities of corpses.
The brave 4 have spoken. They have wiped the flag on my face.
The ship is docked. The culture war is over.
A slam dunk from the cage.

 

Groundswell

I am falling
on the ground
or down the stairs
concrete abrasions
in the ER with Peruvian
physicians who
laugh at my request
for a CAT scan and cousins
who request I reside with
xenophobic mothers who
sell brassieres in Connecticut
“It’s safer for you there.”
With one scrape and scar
I am a sidewalk mouse
with chisels on her face. 

 

Interjection

When the hassle is not what
you object to, you are awkwardly
perplexed by molecules that extend
beyond the Jersey Turnpike;
you expect John Malkovich
to come through the
woods while cars swerve and
collapse in indignant stares.

 

Serf

Shifting from one cubicle
to the next, I wait
for the odium
in voices or keyboards
strumming from the high top.

 

The Berlin Synagogue After Kristallnacht

Medea and her
beer-drinking sophists
yell, “those fucking
Turks”—no that came later—
first it was Hasidic Jews
who “smell vile,
own symphonies,
paintings, stores—
the entire country,
including its roses.”

Janitors und die Junge
in the Medieval pub,
plebeians who
sweep the floor
and corn fields,
dust Jewesses
in Berlin apartments,
make diagnoses
of the world’s ruin
over brewed yeast and
Tequila.

Yarmulkes crackle.
Sledgehammers
destroy synagogues.
Tefillin soak in blood.
The words of the Torah
fall on the floor,
now an archaeological dig
of wood and brick
where Germans
ravish themselves.

***

Eleanor Levine’s writing has appeared in more than fifty publications, including Evergreen Review, Fiction Southeast, Juked, Barely South Review, Denver Quarterly, PANK, and Wigleaf. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, in 2007. Levine’s poetry collection, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria, was released this year by Unsolicited Press. Eleanor is currently completing a collection of short stories.

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