Doren Robbins

DURING THE COMMERCIAL

I had to find a Hungarian Jew some Ritz crackers and a compass—
reminding myself—hurrying to zip it all back in—if I can walk
through the doorway, make it all the way back completely into the
room, if I stay on Ogden Drive or Longwood Avenue, if I don’t go
near Queen Ann Park where the
vatos throw bottles at the Jews, if I
don’t wear a star, if I leave my kinky hair in the oven—coming
through the hallway, in the trash somebody threw in my head, if
the fan inside the refrigerator doesn’t suck me through the vent—I’
m eating somebody’s chopped liver—if I bring a little extra rye
bread for the makers of lamps out of themselves made, if I save a
little paprika to powder the broth, if I bring my mother’s Old Gold
spun filter cigarettes to barter for a little short rib drippings to drop
in their watery stew—somebody takes and then numbers the
cigarettes, somebody quantifies and then calculates the drippings,  
it’s not a good deal, it’s the deal without recourse or no deal at all—
if I made it through the hall from the bathroom to the kitchen and
back to the television before I left the underground tunnel I dug in
the hall that no one entered in time, in my mind—if I returned
before the commercial ended, if I didn’t forget the kosher salt, if I
didn’t forget my father’s Okinawa souvenir army blanket scratching
misery to touch, a scratching misery to remember it made him sick
for life to be shipped over there—if I could steal the neighbor’s car
and fill the trunk with Jews and cover them, if I could say, “no
matter what,” if I could say, “the worst is over,” if I could say, “the
stew soothed them,” if when dragging the blanket from the hall, if
it wasn’t an eight year-old’s dumb illusion relief, the cigarettes and
the bread, the food in my mind in a pot on the blanket, the combat
boots my brother bragged about winning in a card game, if the
somber, odd, un-doowop-like, un-Colgate commercial jingle-like all
violin abscess eyes shaved starvation corpse footage musical score
didn’t return pulling through me starting again.


                                                                      
For the Last of the Juma
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