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Evita couldn’t resist nor the Shah
and Frederick the III ruled just 88 days
before his assassination from within.
Thus your life equaled bowing as though grateful
for filthy sidewalk because becoming
violently ill meant the treatment was working.
The woman your wino impression sickened
dragged her poodle away and passing joggers
quickened their blur. If imagining approached
knowing sooner than infinity, they’d have guessed
the black hole of a slave ship hold, ground zero
at Hiroshima. You got well so you’d feel better
fretting a noisy faucet while investing
in your retirement. Suffering’s all or nothing
like legions of cells conquering their small world
four blocks from your apartment, the laundromat
one quest too many, and like the caliph
in A Thousand and One Nights who slipped through town
as one of his wretches you’d have done anything
to find those people and invite them over,
bring out a nice shiraz in your silk robe.



The missile that ran down Arab children
on a Gaza beach is a head beneath a kippa
at a school in France, pareve salt on the shelf
of a Berlin market, my cremated grandmother
still weeding her Garden State backyard.
Go away, Jew pig. She’s the matriarch, the one
I’ll always love. They cut off her cloven feet,
left them on the temple steps. She never went
back to Russia, fretting hidden fees
and are you warm enough? An ape suckled Tarzan,
a bear Atalanta, a wolf the founders
of Rome. But in all her stories we built
our dumb houses of parchment. When I watch
the angry parades with their cartoon signs
I remember Chagall’s woman
and a green porker looking up from a trough
with the same posture of thirsty suspicion.
More than pharaohs, she believed in washing,
gave me a bank with a drain like a butcher’s floor.
I’ve bought my shame with stubborn animal tears
like milk. She survived her graven image,
still famous for art’s sake in the quaint friezes
of this or that town. She often spoke
of a homeland, lay with an apple in her mouth.  


David Moolten’s new verse has appeared or is forthcoming in The Georgia Review, North American Review, and Water~Stone.  His most recent book, Primitive Mood, won the T. S. Eliot Prize from Truman State University Press and was published in 2009.  Moolten is a physician specializing in transfusion medicine, and he lives, writes, and practices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.