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Jane Schapiro

“A tribal terror of self-awareness”
.                   (Anthropologist Edmund Carpenter)

Carmenço, a figure from Catalan mythology by MidJourney AI

When the girl burst in ten minutes late,
everyone stared. The student president
kept to her script as parents shifted their gazes
to their own sons and daughters, groomed
and poised, holding candles not yet lit.
The overweight, frizzy-haired, pimply teen
could not find a seat. Back and forth she paced,
her awkwardness overtaking the room.
Not one of us gestured to the open chair.

Zeiden, Schimdt, Jackson, Lee—
every class has a few graceless souls
marking the border. And we need them:
close so we know they are there,
but distant so they can’t be us.
Inevitably one breaks through,
barges in like an errant bull,
triggers our invisible fence.


About the writer:
Jane Schapiro is the author of three volumes of poetry, the 2020 Nautilus Book Award Winner Warbler (Kelsay Books, 2020), Let the Wind Push Us Across (Antrim House 2017), Tapping This Stone (Winner of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Award, 1995) and the nonfiction book Inside a Class Action: The Holocaust and the Swiss Banks (University of Wisconsin, 2003). Mrs. Cave’s House (2012) won the Sow’s Ear Poetry Chapbook competition. Her poems have appeared in The American Scholar, Black Warrior Review, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Verse Daily, Women’s Review of Books.

Image: Carmenço, a figure from Catalan mythology by MidJourney AI. Digital image created by artificial intelligence. By 2023. Public domain.

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