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Rochelle Jewel Shapiro


Reclining Nude by Egon Schiele

I love the way in his poems he tattles on neighbors
like Eddie (aka Igloo), who shot
his own dog with an arrow,
and the woman whose husband
shot himself with a gun, who swayed
her backside while Bukowski, as a boy,
walked beside her, lusting,
and the priest who vowed poverty
who Charles caught buying a pricey ice-cream cone
during the grip of the Great Depression.

After a night of Dewar’s, over black coffee
and Marlboro smoke, my mother talked about
Mr. Fogel from the fish market.
He felt up Mrs. Cohen, topped her,
my mother called it, for extra herring.
As if proof of her sin, stray cats
followed her home. Rheumy eyes
widening. Mother told me the woman
across the road stood naked
in the window after midnight,
and about the husbands
who climbed her fire escape.

I poured Mother’s words over my Sugar Frosted Flakes,
heard them snap, crackle, and pop.


About the writer:
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro’s novel, Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. She has published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines such as A Thin Slice of Anxiety, After the Pause, BoomerLitMag, Brief Wilderness, Brushfire, The Courtship of Winds, and Wrath-Bearing Tree. Rochelle’s poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and she won the Branden Memorial Literary Award from Negative Capability.

Image: Reclining Nude by Egon Schiele (1890-1918). Charcoal, watercolor and gouache on paper. 11.6 x 18.2 inches. 1917. Public domain.

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