Product 25
Poetry and Prose from the Center for Writers
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Goose Truncated


American Tune or, the Immigrant's Song

I do not believe in sorrow;
it is not American. –
Philip Levine

Thirty years out of Danzig, Poland
and the only thing Kosinski has to his name
is waking up at five to open his geshelt at six.

Kosinski notices the German butcher, Goebbels,
Judenrat with bratwurst across the street.
Ignoring this, Kosinski takes the delivery of fresh bread
from Vincenzo, who carried the bundles in the store like children,
and sits behind his counter, watching Vincenzo leave.

The only customer this morning so far is O’Shaughnessy,
who speaks by placing three pennies on the counter for milk.

Without suffering there is only a handful of dust.

If we did not suffer,
what would the Catholic dirt under Lilliana’s fingers mean
when she scooped American air
into her lungs for the first time
as she steps foot on Ellis Island?

If we did not suffer,
what would be so special about forty pigeons
hovering above Kosinski’s store,
spinning in infinity like the veins in America’s arm?

If there was not suffering,
why would Lilliana find Kosinski’s nose so strange?
like the ones she saw before leaving the Ukraine,
as she walks into his store, looking for work.

Without suffering there is nothing.

Inferno, Purgatorio, and Brighton Beach

A fire twirler stands against the beach
like crimson on a whooping crane’s head,
bloody and holy against the white,
breathing ashes that are never said.

When you are sand, God is out of reach
and jellyfish are always dead,
pierced, penetrated by the light
and the gulls swoop down like lead.

Sundays in Brooklyn are unknown speech
as the Cyclone spins in dread.
Coney Island disappears from sight,
and the fire twirler’s flames are fed.

Matthew Germenis was born and bred in Queens, New York. He enjoys the works of Malamud, Baldwin, Scorsese, Bergman, Kubrick, Paul Simon, Dylan, Mozart and Miles. Nothing tops Star Wars: Episode IV. He writes poetry because he needs the eggs. One day he’ll be your child’s college professor.