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Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

On the Cross Bronx Expressway

The entrances, exits too sudden.

Drivers laying on their horns,


screaming at each other.

My husband’s head jerked back


as he blinked into the rearview mirror.

You won’t believe this, he said.


A white goat leapt past my window

then raced ahead, legs a cartoon blur.


A butcher in a white coat, wielding an axe,

chased the goat. Drivers began to cheer,


Goat, Goat, Goat.

The vibrations went through us


like an eternal om.

All the cars veered from the goat,


blocked the butcher.

The goat, like a unicorn,


sprang free

as if from a medieval tapestry. 

My Father Kissed 

as if he needed proof that you had bone
beneath the skin of your cheek,
that in our living room
with its hi-fi / bar entertainment unit,
you would not fall away.
Fall away was what he called all those murders
in Ukraine.

To say death aloud, you must
touch your tongue to the back of your teeth,
shove death down your throat,
trap it beneath your breastbone,
and make it pulse.

He kissed you as if our green shag rug
was the grass of Odessa where he was born,
where he was forced from.

You could smell his cigarettes
as he kissed as if each day
he had to draw the smoke deep into his lungs
to relive the torching
of his village,
the choking tears.

My father kissed as if
he couldn’t believe that you—
that he—was here.

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro’s novel, Miriam The Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. She’s published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines. Her poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and she won the Branden Memorial Literary Award from Negative Capability. For more information, please visit

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